Tenants across Lancashire are preparing to travel to the House of Commons on Wednesday 28 February where they will meet with MPs for the launch of a new campaign – Benefit to Society. The campaign aims to change public perceptions about who lives in social housing.

A national survey has shown that more than 90% of social housing tenants feel they are portrayed in a negative way. Now they are asking their elected representatives to take action.

MPs are being asked by tenants to sign up to an online pledge, which can be found at www.benefittosociety.co.uk/pledge and to meet with them at the campaign launch.

Fiona Brown, a Progress Housing Group tenant from Leyland, Lancashire, said: “Too often lately, those living in social housing have been portrayed by the media as ‘drug-taking louts’, or ‘single mums with an endless supply of children living on benefits’.

“This is not the reality of social housing. The reality is that the majority of social housing is taken up by working people and those who do not have a choice as they are unable to work due to disability, sickness or are themselves carers.

“By visiting the House of Commons we are making our reality known. This is about changing a negative into a positive”.

Campaign organiser and Director of Tpas (Tenant Engagement experts), Leslie Channon says: “We know that 70% of people living in social housing are in work or retired. Only 7% are unemployed. The remainder of people are unable to work because they are carers or due to disability. Yet if you believed the media’s portrayal and the awful language used about where people live like ‘sink estates’ you would have a very different and biased view. ‘Benefit to Society’ is about setting the record straight.”

The launch event will also see the unveiling of new research carried out by Professor Anne Power of the London School of Economics. This suggests that the reduction in social housing from around 30% of the country’s housing stock to around 17%, has had a negative impact on the wider public perception of who lives in social housing. The assumption is often that it’s a tenure of last choice. However, analysis of qualitative data from tenants shows that the reality is that social housing provides good quality homes for a wide range of people.

Wednesday 28 February will also see the launch of a social media campaign aiming to give profile to some of the real and untold stories of social housing tenants. Progress Housing Group will be backing the campaign via its Twitter account @ProgressHG and Facebook page www.facebook.com/ProgressStreetTalk along with the campaign’s 28 sponsor organisations.