A single mother on benefits has hit out at a television show for portraying her life on welfare as an easy ride.
Unemployed Caroline McCracken, of Bridlington, says Channel 5’s On Benefits: Costa del Dole has cost her friends, and exposed her to abuse and ridicule.
The qualified sewing machinist said she was devastated to read hundreds of “nasty” comments about her, following her appearance on last week’s programme.
She said: “It’s all the backlash that I’ve had. I’ve had to delete people on Facebook that I thought were once my friends and they’re not. They said some really cruel and bad things about me.”
The programme followed Caroline for six days, while she and her three children were living temporarily with a friend after becoming homeless seven months earlier.
She told the show she began claiming benefits 10 years ago, and that living on benefits “was not something I wanted,” and “it doesn’t make me feel happy at all”.
“I wish I’d not done it now,” Caroline told the Free Press.
“If I’d known this is how it was going to make me look, with half the people in Bridlington saying nasty things about me, I really wouldn’t have done it.”
The programme claimed Caroline received £1,700 in benefits per month, comprising income support, child benefits, child tax credits and carer’s allowance
But Caroline insists her two sons’ Disability Living Allowance had formed a significant portion of the figure, which went towards clothes, entertainment and special food.
“The money side of it is totally not right at all,” she said. “£416 of that was my son’s money and he’s no longer with me, so I no longer get his money.
“People in Bridlington are now saying ‘oh, we work and we don’t get that amount and how can she not afford an ice cream?’
“Next week, I lose a further £150 per week, so that’s going to be a further £600 a month that I’ll be losing, so I’ll only be on £1,000 per month.”
She also believes she was misled by the show’s creators, who she says told her that they wanted to document the plight of those on the benefits.
“We were told that it was going to be a good thing – that it wasn’t going to look bad on us and that local people in Bridlington sometimes struggle to get houses and benefits that they are entitled to.”
Now, Caroline says she wants people to stop judging her, and insists she would rather be in work than on benefits.
“They said I’ve never worked, that I’ve always been on benefits. That’s not true, I was actually a sewing machinist for 11 years, I’ve done cleaning at Hilderthorpe School, cleaning caravans.
“People may look at me on telly and think ‘she has got it easy’, but little do they know, I haven’t got it easy.
“I just find it awful – what people are saying about me. People who don’t know me don’t know how hard I’ve had it.”
The single mother said she would love to work with children or disabled children, because she has experience looking after her two sons with ADHD.