Coming Here Soon – Greece, Bust and Broken Part One – BBC 3 Documentary
The world is currently experiencing the worst financial meltdown in living memory, but what is it like to be young and caught up in this crisis, and what lessons can be learned in the UK? To find out, reporter Stacey Dooley travels to Greece, Ireland and Japan, three countries each facing very different and very difficult economic challenges.
Stacey begins her investigation in Greece, where for years successive governments have failed to balance the nation’s books. Crippled with one of the biggest national debts in the world Greece recently needed a multi-billion bailout from Europe to avoid bankruptcy, but to secure this loan the Greek government was forced to implement massive spending cuts and tax hikes. These austerity measures have dramatically affected the lives of young Greeks, leaving more than half unemployed and many more in only part-time or temporary work.
Stacey’s investigation into the Greek situation comes at a crucial time. Still on the brink of going bust the government must decide whether to accept another bailout and introduce even harsher austerity measures, or let the country go bankrupt and leave the Euro.
Her journey begins with a street tour of Athens where she quickly learns how badly affected normal Greeks are as she encounters scavengers, soup kitchens and witnesses a suicide attempt. The woman is one of 700 civil servants working in social housing, but with the government department being shut not only are their jobs under threat, but so too are the lives of the million Greeks who rely on the service.
Stacey’s investigation continues with a look at how new charges for receiving even basic medical help are effectively denying many poor Greeks access to their national health service. She visits the town of Perama where a charity-run clinic now treats sick locals in their hundreds and pays a home visit to a couple facing huge medical bills after the complicated birth of their newborn baby.
Against this backdrop of poverty and desperation many young Greeks are choosing to battle against the government and its austerity measures. Stacey accompanies one recently-formed group, called We Do Not Pay, as they take over an underground station in protest at recent price increases imposed on many public services. But whilst many Greeks are choosing to stay and fight others are opting to give up their dreams of city life, instead fleeing to the country. Stacey travels to the island of Chios to visit two former civil servants who have taken a massive gamble in an attempt to earn a living – risking their family’s entire life savings to set up a snail farm.
Stacey’s investigation reaches its climax on the day politicians decide to vote in favour of a second bailout and a further wave of harsh austerity measures. She attends a massive public demonstration gathered outside parliament that dramatically turns into a violent riot. It offers her a glimpse of how angry and desperate a people can become when pushed to breaking point by economic policies, and it gives an insight into what could happen in the UK if our debt gets any worse.