In the middle of Britain’s big four-day celebration of Queen Elizabeth, TV2 takes a few hours’ drive east of London to Gaywick, Essex. The village is one of the poorest areas in the UK.
The place is referred to as the city completely forgotten by the authorities. It has been ranked three times in recent years as the poorest in England.
When we arrived, we noticed the stigma hanging over the city.
– Did you also come to take pictures of how poor we are?
Many are clearly frustrated and angry, both at the authorities and at people who take pictures of their homes as if it were a tourist attraction.
They ask us to photograph beautiful places at a further distance, but this does not give the full picture.
Because the differences in Britain are huge. From the oppressive oligarchs in the richest areas of London to cities like Gaywick where the city is deteriorating and resources are limited.
out of london
After walking back and forth in the streets we find a small house exquisitely decorated with paintings, flowers and pearls. We are knocked and kissed by a nice guy. Once we say we’re journalists, he offers us cranberry juice and takes his wife.
The couple don’t want to be photographed, but say they both have a disability that makes them unable to work. They lived in London before, but Social Security did not cover the rent.
They were homeless for a year before they found a small house in Gaywick for an affordable rent. Now they painted and decorated the house to make it more comfortable on the street.
old holiday homes
Their story is similar to that of others who live in Gaywick.
The village was built as a vacation home in the 1930s, but after World War II there was a great need for settlement. Thus, small holiday homes were used as full-time homes.
Now it is largely a place where those who cannot live in the city relocate. Some live in motorhomes, and some live in small vacation homes.
The couple says there will be a barbecue for the Queen in the street next door, so we go there.
At the barbecue, we met Mandy, who lives in a caravan in Swift Lane. Mandy says she lives “off the grid”, that is, without running water and electricity. She gets firewood to be thrown by the neighbors and uses it to keep warm. In the garden there is a bathtub that has been creatively converted into a sofa.
Mandy has lived in Gaywick for three years.
– There are problems here. Mandy says there is a lot of poverty and many people have challenges.
She tells why the men who came to us were angry.
– This is a tourist attraction. People come here in the summer to see poverty. To see if it’s as bad as they think, she says.
While we are in the city, people drive and wander past while photographing the streets with mobile phones.
Many other residents say they feel the authorities will not contribute to the development of the area. Mandy believes that all the homes in Gaywick should be demolished and rebuilt, but the homes are so small and so close that a new home would take up the space of six of those homes.
You must transfer six families to get a one-family home. What do you do with the other five families? That’s the problem in that area here, Mandy says.
She believes that the city should optimally become a holiday resort again.
Hoping for a change with Charles as King
But in Swift Lane, we notice the loneliness of neighbors who pull chairs, tables, and barbecue food into the street. This day they celebrate the Queen. Here too, most people like her, and they think she did a good job. But other members of the royal family are more skeptical.
Mandy worries that something needs to be done about the country where the differences are growing. She believes that politicians are to blame, but the royal family has a great deal of influence on politicians.
You should not judge a country by its richest country, but by its ability to take care of the poorest. Unfortunately, the country is becoming more and more divided. She says it will create more problems in the future.
She thinks Queen Elizabeth has been a good queen for 70 years, but she hopes for a change in the country when Prince Charles becomes king.
The monarchy can survive, but Charles must represent change. Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be much change, Mandy says.
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