Lynsey Hanley’s Estates: An Intimate History is an eye-opening book about the history of social housing in Britain and how it is treated today. Hanley explains how these government built houses came about and how the original plans to build ‘homes for heroes’ and a house that a person could be proud of, were in many cases lost in money-saving moves and social ghettoization as these homes were built far away from both private housing and public amenities.
Hanley indeed describes council estates as “class ghettoes, places where few middle-class people aside from those who are paid to do so ever venture”. Hanley herself grew up on a council estate and writes sympathetically about all aspects of life there. Hanley asks why, in a country with free universal healthcare, free education and an envied system of state benefits, the poorest people can still slip through the net “to a place so low that teams of social workers, teachers, counsellors and mentors have immense difficulty in pulling them back up.”
This was a very important and interesting read for me. I realised how little I knew about life on council estates and this has made me change the way I think about them permanently.
Profanity/ Language: 1 scatological term, 2 F-word derivatives (all reported speech)
Violence/ Gore: Description of a violent act (from a newspaper article), destruction of property.
Mature Subject Matter:
Socioeconomic conflict, racial conflict, unemployment, homelessness.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Alcohol and cigarettes are mentioned.