Jesmond locals brand students ‘yobs’ in BBC documentary

‘We are England’ shows Jesmond residents unfairly painting a negative picture of the students living here

A recent documentary has been filmed in our beloved student area, Jesmond, as part of BBC series We are England.

The documentary aims so show a conflict of interests between the local residents, who want peace and quiet, and the students currently residing there who are “partying all the time”. But has our side as students been fairly represented? Having lived next door to some of the locals in this episode, I have some strong thoughts.

Among other things, the documentary included snippets from The World Cup where students were, like most people in the UK,  drinking and celebrating outside their houses, alongside clips of locals branding it “yob culture” and claiming they are “victims of anti-social behaviour”. A slightly dramatic reaction to a group of students enjoying a football game if you ask me.

Several residents were claiming students would throw bottles and shout abuse, something I am yet to experience in my two years of living here. One woman even said she moved to Jesmond because she thought she would have loads of fun and “go out all the time” and now feels as though she’s being forced to move out of her home because of the partying and noise. How can you move to an area for the bars and the party lifestyle and then complain when it doesn’t happen for you?

The documentary also included clips of students giving them a chance to have their say, and making the fair point that most of us “have worked really hard and spent a lot of money to be here and feel as though we’re being pushed out”. Living in Jesmond isn’t cheap, and so we shouldn’t be made to feel like criminals because the odd few behave badly.

The locals in the documentary failed to mention any good the students bring, such as the fact that we do in fact contribute £500 million to Newcastle’s economy. What else the documentary failed to mention are the anxieties many students have caused by police and local authorities showing up at our doors- obviously quite an intimidating occurrence.

My housemates and I personally had experiences with some of the locals in this documentary who continuously rang the police on us and had them turn up at our door at 7/8pm after complaints we were having parties – we were eating our dinner. This came after we provided our neighbours with phone numbers so that they could let us know when they wanted us to keep it down. We even gave flowers to apologise if we were too noisy after the police came for the first time, the first night we had moved in. Encounters of this sort weren’t mentioned in the documentary.

Many locals have previously been recorded making unfair and extreme comments about students in a Facebook group meant for discussing and reporting anti-social behaviour, so its pretty clear many have negative views on the students already.

Unfortunately, many other students who actually are respectful and are only trying to enjoy their student days without harming others have had very similar experiences. In my opinion, there needs to be a balance between clamping down on actual anti-social behaviour that the odd few are involved in, and not bothering students who are just going about their days or enjoying some music or drinks in their own homes that they pay rent for. 

Students have just as much right to be in these areas as anyone else and there needs to be mutual respect on both sides so that we can begin to live harmoniously.

The BBC was contacted for comment.

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