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Memories of life on Benefits Street

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: February 06, 2014

By Sarah Marshall

  • LIFE CHANGING...Hayley Felton and daughter Amber.

  • LIFE CHANGING...Hayley Felton.

  • BENEFITS STREET...Hayley and Amber Felton at their home in James Turner Street.

  • BENEFITS STREET...Amber Felton at on James Turner Street.

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A STAFFORD businesswoman who lived on Channel 4's infamous Benefits Street but turned her life around with hard work, says she was shocked to see her old house on TV.

Hayley Felton, 40, lived on the James Turner Street, close to Winson Green Prison in Birmingham, 19 years ago.

The street has been featured as part of Channel Four's Benefits Street documentary and was chosen by TV makers as there were a high proportion of people on benefits there.

Hayley, who now lives in Brereton, Rugeley, and runs her business Revive Hair Salon in Milford Road, lived in the street for 15 months with her three-month-old daughter Amber after escaping a violent relationship.

"I was offered a flat in Sparkbrook or a house in Winson Green, she said. "I chose the house as it had a back garden.

"When I saw it on TV I was shocked. But a lot of what I saw was similar to how I remember it.

"Obviously the people on the show were not living there when I was there but there were a lot of people on benefits then. Everyone knew each other, it was a community.

"But I was mugged twice in the time I lived there and was scared to go out when it got dark. I had a brick thrown through my window..

"I had gone from living in a lovely home in Sutton Coldfield with family and friends and a job to being alone and living on £85 a week benefits.

"I have seen my old house on screen, it was about seven doors up from White Dee's."

Hayley saved what money she could, moved out of James Turner Street and gained a hairdressing qualification.

She eventually became manager of Haywood Hair Salon, before deciding to launch her own salon last year. Daughter Amber, now 19, has also trained as a hairdresser and works with her mum.

Hayley added: "I look back at that time now with mixed feelings. It was having Amber that kept me going.

"If you are on benefits no-one can help you but yourself. You have to want to change."

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