Monday, 3 August 2009

Its not nice to be called a chav town‏

I have found that some people talk about Bracknell as a chav town. Naturally I believe this is unfair as Bracknell is really a young families town with low unemployment and hard working people.

Now I believe when people (by that I believe I mean middle class people generally) use the word chav they mean it for two very generalised groups.

1 Young guys wearing sports gear (not the expensive kind) who don't work or don't want to work and who they want to avoid as they are perceived to be dangerous.

2 Young ladies who have a number of kids and who don't work as they can use benefits to their advantage etc etc.

Now let me clarify that im not having a go at anyone individual or group im just writing about the kind of comments people make down the pub or in general conversations that people just don't write about for fear of being branded a snob or worse. I think it should be ok to approach any subject on a blog although I imagine the red top news papers could easily get away with using words like Chav.

My background is growing up in the Great Holland's council estate in Bracknell with a young family (my mum was a young single mum herself after her first marriage before getting remarried). My dad was a working man who used his printing experience to start his own business with a partner and then buy the council house we lived in, sell it and move out of Bracknell to Crowthorne (so we moved from a working class area to a middle class area). What im trying to say is that im not sure if im working class or middle class, I have a middle class job but I live in perhaps a working class area. I also know people from lots of very varied backgrounds including some people who others would brand a chav based on first look (of course their situations are more complicated then that).

I also don't think that calling people words like Chav is helpful but unfortunately I know what people mean by this word. What they really mean generally are people who don't want to work, live off benefits, don't care about what others think to the point that they have little interest in the wider world (dont vote) and are excluded from the wealthier parts of our society and perhaps have reduced personal goals. I think that this is not a working class grouping from the point of view that if you have no intention to work then how can you be working class.

I truly never really noticed this for myself in Bracknell but others have told me what they think when they pop into town. So I sat in the Bentals cafe with my posh coffee during my lunch break and people watched. I saw 3 young ladies take their 8 kids into the pub at midday, 3 sports cloths wearing young men kicking cans thought town. A couple arguing in the street and a mum grabbing her kid roughly and pushing them while the girl was crying and mum was shouting. Now I have to admit that this is all very stereo typical and it does make me feel sad. I did however see many more people who would not of fallen into the stereotype.

One problem for Bracknell town centre is that it does not attract as varied a cliental as it should and many people just travel to Reading or Camberley instead of Bracknell, including many people who live in Bracknell.

The middle classes just don't understand why people want to live on benefits. There is nothing wrong with bring your kids up full time I believe as there can be many good reasons why. However some people I know off have kids so they don't need to work without actually realising how hard it is to bring kids up. This may seem natural if your part of a culture where your friends have done or do the same thing.

Often its people not really thinking about what they could achieve not knowing what they want and not given a hand with achieving something better. If you don't have respect for yourself or your future then you won't have respect for others or indeed the country we live in. I do feel that doors have been closed for example you need a degree for everything these days where as before you could just go and learn your trade. We need to help people who don't care about themselves to care again to see that there is more to life than this.

Of course this is not an easy task and its not just about education but also about the way we treat each other. People like to stick within their own like minded safe groups, perhaps too much. If we are more polite to each other (even when people are not polite to us) and didn't generalise people into groups (tried to not) then maybe that would be a good start.

But of course it is up to people who fall into benefit culture to pick themselves up too and push themselves to achieve better and realise there is a big world out there with many opportunities you just need to sometimes apply your imagination and thought to improving your own situation.

I think for the most part the political classes tend to not try hard enough to get their vote and are therefore some people are more removed from our democracy. You could say there is a growing exclusion of some part of society because they are not as targeted as say the elderly or middle classes. So they are even less likely to vote and so the cycle continues.

I do think that Bracknell is unfairly seen as a chav town by some as it has plenty of working class and middle class people living within it all trying to make ends meet . If you knocked on every door in Bracknell (I have knocked on a lot of doors in Bracknell too boot) you would find that the vast majority do not fit this Chav Stereotype.

If the town centre was improved then this perception would change. If we mixed a little more all of our attitudes may change for the better and our good points would rub of on each other.

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  1. I have used the chav word may times I'm starting to feel bad. Perhaps I should stop perhaps I will. BTW its ok to be middle class

  2. To me, the word "chav" is more descriptive of what used to be called "white van man" attitudes, tastes and fashions than anything to do with benefit claimants.

  3. Maybe the chav word has changed I for one believe it to be benefit claimers with a rough looking dog

  4. Funny, i was just looking at buying a house in Bracknell. Stayed at the Coppid Beech hotel a number of times and really loved the part of it that i saw. Which are the nice parts? Pls help.Single mum, 2 kids, very ambitous, middle class, dont own any dogs not to mention a rough-looking one. What part of Bracknell would be great for my boys and i?

  5. Well bracknells a great place for kids I would recommend forest park most areas have places to play and Bracknell is very safe

  6. Bracknell would e a great place for your biys as we have alot of parks and the arts centre wit plenty to do and a very cool free family festival every year (the big day out)

    I would not want to recommend any one area.

    However the Bracknell standard did a survey on the most popular places in Bracknell here

  7. Is is really fair to get on a moral high horse for use of the word chav when clearly you are defining boundaries and labels in terms of working class and middle class?

  8. Working class or middle class are in themselves not a offensive word where as being called a chav is. )Ou can't help but use some categories like there labourites or they are accountants these are not insults. I think chav is a group that is an unfair and outdated term anyway

  9. Anonymous 5th Aug 09 - Moral high hourse

    I have used labels which are not derogatory like Chav is. Its ok to be called a middle class or working class person and I am aware that these terms are not as relevant as they once were, but some time inorder to explain things you do have to use a grouping word otherwise I would have to write massive definitions of groups of people. I felt it was ok to use these terms.

    I could of course be wrong to do so but I amit it is hard to not use groups however some are surely ok like Tories or Accountants etc, but again if I meet an indiviual I would not class them into working class or middle class unless that individual called themselves that. Well I try too, im not perfect you know.

    Hope that clarifies things a little.

    BTW I see nothing wrong with getting on a moral high horse. If we all got on a moral high horse as it were we may do things better

  10. I am, in my limited wisdom, more inclined to see chav as meaning Council House and Violent. Which as a term conjures up images of people, regardless of age or gender, who are looking to beat 'the system' to avoid regular work (but will happily work cash-in-hand) and really have little respect for society at large. Now, this is a stereotype and as you mentioned a minority so you need to look beyond the social stereotypes to other aspects of Bracknell.

    Now, at this point I have to admit working from memory, I moved away from the area (to Aylesbury which is concrete and a bit soulless) 10 years ago but lived near and worked in Bracknell for 6 years from school in Crowthorne. And it was always viewed by my middle-class friends (I was firmly working class as a child) as a pretty desolate place to come to. Mostly, I think, because of the acres of concrete and a street layout that seemed to create a gravitation field for breezes that surpassed Chicago in it's efficiency...

    Perhaps you can tell me and, preferably, point me to pictures to show it's changed but until a major change in the look and feel of Bracknell comes along it will always be seen as a 'CHAVTOWN'. After all, Wokingham probably has the same if not more 'chavs' as nearby Bracknell but it has topped the chart of best places to live in the UK in the because it's pretty... (all right there are other factors but I suspect that Bracknell is not behind on the other factors)

    Just my two penn'th...

  11. Ok, in my previous comment I mentioned that I hadn't been to Bracknell Town Centre for nearly 10 years. After posting on here I went onto google earth and looked around the pictures on there for the old Ferranti site on western Road (I spent 4 years there!) and then the mists of nostalgia settled.

    Saturday I had the opportunity (if that's what you call it ;-)) to visit Bracknell again and look around to see what's changed.

    I'm afraid not as much as I think it needs to. Broadstreet (the one that runs parallel to the high street) is a ghetto of charity and 99p shops and Charles Square is looking tired. I think the council need to tender for a major regeneration of Broadstreet up to the high street with a new shopping centre (prefereably enclosed) that would encourage the new big high street names like H&M, Miss Selfridge as well as the old stalwarts M&S and John Lewis...

    I think, thanks to a great transport link system, that Bracknell could easily compete against Reading and certainly Camberley for shopping if someone in the planning office took the problem by the horns and ran with it... so to speak.

    I was also contemplating moving back to Bracknell, all the industries that I want to work in are there and the opportunities are huge... I just need a job nearby and my house to go up in value by 10% (Ha HA!)

  12. Thank you Nick, That was a very interesting insight. Bracknell Town centre does need regenerating and the council have been working on this for years and years

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  14. Bracknell does suck though! i moved here to get into a uni in london and theres waaay to many times when you go outside that you abused by (dare i say it) chavs. Once i just walked past this group not saying or doing anything and they pushed me into the road i mean wth -_-

  15. There is only one word to sum up Bracknell and that word is awesome,
    I have lived in Bracknell all my life and wouldn't want to live any where as I have so many friends and family here.
    I don't class my self as a chav as I wear posh clothes and have a really good job. there is a small group of people that let the town down.

  16. Thank you Nick, That was a very interesting insight. Bracknell Town centre does need regenerating and the council have been working on this for years and years