SOCIAL housing tenants from across Oxfordshire have vowed to challenge stereotypes and change the way they are seen by wider society.

Delegates from the region joined others from across the country at the Houses of Parliament yesterday to launch a campaign called ‘Benefit to Society’.

The move comes after a national survey found that 90 per cent of people who live in social housing feel they are negatively portrayed.

Oxfordshire MPs Ed Vaizey, Robert Courts and John Howell have backed the campaign that aims to tell the real stories of people who live in social housing to show they come from all backgrounds.

Elected representatives are being asked to sign an online pledge and stand up for their constituents by challenging ‘derogatory language’, when they hear it.

Tenants are leading the campaign with support from 28 organisations including Oxfordshire’s biggest social housing provider, SOHA.

Richard Peacock, the company’s chief executive, said, “Many of us working or living in social housing are really fed up of the negative, unfair and untrue stereotypes that are too often presented.

“Social housing gives people a decent home that is affordable and secure.

“It allows people to get on with the rest of their lives and to achieve great things. It’s time for those stories to be heard.”

The launch event also saw new research unveiled that suggests the reduction in the country’s social housing stock from 30 per cent to 17 per cent of total housing has had a negative impact on the public’s view of tenants.

It is now often seen as an option of last resort, according to Prof Anne Power of the London School of Economics.

But Josie Midwinter, 71, said she enjoys living in social housing in south Didcot.

The ex-minister did not own her own home after living in clergy accommodation and overseas throughout her career so turned to SOHA upon retirement.

She said: “Social housing is a label that often has negative connotations.

“A lot of my friends ask me ‘how did you end up there?’

“It’s a stigma, people are perhaps seen as lacking in aspiration but it should be made clear that we come from all walks of life.

“There is not one type of tenant, there is a great diversity.

“Some people are dealing with issues but there are lots who contribute to society, through their work or volunteering.

“I would personally recommend it to anyone.”