Everyone slams our town & says it's a dump but it's actually one of the BEST in the UK & we love it… here's why | The Sun

NEIGHBOURS in a seaside village known for its high levels of poverty have spoken of their pride after it was voted the fifth best place to live in England.

The unexpected accolade for Jaywick in Essex has been welcomed by long suffering locals who see it as recognition at last for their “fantastic” community.

Lorraine Walker, a barmaid at the village’s Broadway social club, said: “It’s about time that people spoke up for Jaywick.

“I love it here because it is so community orientated. Everyone knows each other and looks out for each other.

“If you don’t see your neighbour around for a couple of days, you knock on their door and make sure they are OK.

“The people who like to s**g off Jaywick don’t know what they are talking about. I think it is fantastic."

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The village on the outskirts of Clacton famously featured in the Channel 5 series Benefits By The Sea in 2015 and 2016 about the struggles of its residents on the breadline.

A United Nations expert also visited the village in 2018, and highlighted the plight of its residents in his report about “extreme poverty” in the UK.

Jaywick’s reputation took a further dive in 2019 when it was named as the most deprived neighbourhood in England for a third time in official Government figures.

But in an astonishing turnaround, the village which was constructed as a holiday resort in the 1930s was voted as the fifth best place to live in England in a poll by website ILiveHere.

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The poll which attracted 67,955 votes put Jaywick just behind Darlington, Aylesbury, Norwich and Peterborough, and ahead of much richer towns such as St Albans and York.

Organisers of the poll cautioned that votes for Jaywick might have been placed by people wanting to be “ironic”.

But retired hoteliers Suzy and Barry Shimmell who live in a bungalow overlooking Jaywick beach with their two Alsations and a tortoise, said they were delighted about the poll results.

Suzy, 69, said: “We have been here full time for about six years. It is difficult to think of a nicer place to live.

“When we first came here and I showed pictures of the beach to friends, they assumed that we had been abroad on holiday as it was so beautiful.

“The view of the beach from my bedroom is just breath-taking. There is just a glorious expanse of sand.

Suzy said people often have pre-conceived ideas of Jaywick but have their mind changed instantly when they visit.

Suzy and Barry, 74, who are property landlords rent out eight bungalows and a house in Jaywick which has a population of around 5,000.

Barry keeps himself fit by collecting rubbish three times a day on a 600 yard stretch of beach outside his house.

He also helps run the Dig 4 Jaywick community garden which grows fresh vegetables for people to eat at the back of a community centre.

I get quite cross about all the criticism and the bad reputation

Mally Johnson, 61, who is medically retired due to long Covid and other health problems spoke of his pride in Jaywick as he supped a pint of lunchtime Guinness in the Broadway club which has 153 members paying a subscription of just £10 a year.

He said: “There are people who say bad things about what it is like living here, but they are generally not local people.

“I just let the criticism of Jaywick wash over me. The community spirit here is what really matters.

“When my cooker broke a little while ago, a friend came and mended it for me in five minutes in exchange for a drink. If I had contacted an electrician, it would have cost £40 to £50.”

Retired carpenter Robert Johnson, 72, who has lived in in Jaywick for 41 years said: “Jaywick has always had a bad press, especially with the TV series making out that it is a slum area, but I am really happy here."

“Jaywick has always had a bad press, especially with the TV series making out that it is a slum area, but I am really happy here."

As he posed for pictures on his mobility scooter adorned with mod-style mirrors, he added: “I get quite cross about all the criticism and the bad reputation. I come from London so I know what I am talking about.”

Maureen Richards, 75, who was supping her £3.75 pint of Carlsberg in the club at the stroke of noon on Saturday, said: “I like everything about Jaywick.


“The Benefits By The Sea programme was horrible and out of order. The TV crews used to buy drinks for people to try and get them to say controversial things."

Retired school caretaker Derek Farley, 83, who has scores of colourful gnomes in his front garden and on the roof of his home, said: “We all get on with each other here.

“I first came to Jaywick in the year of the 1953 floods, and then came back loads of times in a touring caravan before moving here full time about 30-years-ago.

“It is a special place and the locals are wonderful. I think it is great news that it has been voted as a great place to live.

Jaywick resident Kevin Paraire, 64, who is diabetic and suffers from angina and anxiety told of his love for the village as he returned home on his mobility scooter with his shopping.

“I was paying £800 a month for a ground floor flat in Southend, but my two bedroom bungalow here costs £550. It is a fantastic place to live."

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Kim Richards, 33, who was walking her Cane Corso dog Mabel on Jaywick beach with her partner Lee Hollingsworth, 37, and their son Harley, 14, and Alfie, 13, said: “We live in Clacton – but we prefer coming to the beach here.

“I know Jaywick gets criticised, but the beach here is lovely sand, rather than pebbles. Mabel loves going into the water.”

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