Claire Hughes tackles some of the misconceptions faced by social housing tenants

It’s Monday morning, my husband finishes his coffee and leaves for his working day.

As I prepare breakfast for my 12-year-old we discuss the excitement of her upcoming filming for the BBC.

In our hall stands a cabinet overflowing with awards, including medals from Westminster, and a hand written letter of congratulations from the Prime Minister.

As we walk to school we open the cast iron gates, a tree lined path entices us in, bordered by green tended lawns.

Looking up at the blue sky, the morning bird song is melodic and abundant.

One could say it paints a picture of the typical quintessential Oxfordshire countryside, but what would you say if I told you that the house I live in, the door I closed and the path we walked down were on a social housing estate? And that my family are social housing tenants? Does the vision you now have, match the one you had when you started reading this?

Are we the family who you assume lives on benefits, scrounges off people, the parents who are unemployed?

Do you assume my children cause trouble, have low aspirations, lack ambition, and are uneducated?

The answer is 'no', we aren’t that family and the truth is, it’s highly unlikely you will ever meet such a family.

The preconceived visions in your mind are not realistic, but fictional stereotypes that have been embedded by years and years of media misrepresentations social housing tenants endure daily.

The downbeat stories in the papers and social media you may have read or the TV programmes that are formulating this false 'chav culture' continue to gain purchase on your imagination like never before.

My family has been victim to such pigeon-holing, including periods of bullying and exclusion my eldest daughter experienced growing up because of where we lived.

Decades of stigmatising has compelled a group of tenants to fight back to challenge the media and government to see the person not the stereotype and hopefully re-educate the public about who social tenants really are.

Of the 3.9 million social housing households in England only seven per cent of the tenants are unemployed, according to the English Housing Survey Figures.

A huge percentage of these are retired or have caring responsibilities, there are also many keyworkers, (NHS staff and emergency service personnel who live in shared ownership properties) which contribute to the social housing sector.

Benefit to Society is a campaign I have had the honour to be a part of, strengthening in both momentum and support over the last year.

Sponsored by housing organisations, it is rousing tenants to positively advocate their experiences and stories of living in social housing.

Also, how collectively we are intensifying an initiative that will optimistically revolutionise the way society and the media perceive us.

The campaign was also backed at Westminster in February gaining the support of the housing minister and shadow housing minister.

Being a social housing tenant is a privilege that has allowed me to provide a safe and affordable environment to raise my children.

My community is like many across the UK, thriving, rich in diversity with people who are proud of where they live, who contribute greatly to their local area, volunteering their time to local projects and good causes and being a benefit to their society.

The campaign is asking people to sign the official pledge to tackle stigma when they see it.

It’s time to end social housing stereotypes and pave the way for pride in the tenure.

The author, Claire Hughes, is a tenant of Soha Housing.

Benefit to Society is a national campaign aimed at promoting positive perceptions of social housing tenants.

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Soha Housing, founded in July 1997, is a provider of over 6,600 homes.

The majority of homes are for social rent, with just over 13 per cent shared ownership or leasehold properties. Stock is located across South Oxfordshire and neighbouring districts.