A door-to-door salesman who turned up on Benefits Street has settled in Glasgow after being attacked with a sledgehammer in his native Birmingham.
Stephen ‘Smoggy’ Smith says he became a target of violence and abuse after appearing on the Channel 4 show and moved north to start over.
The 46-year-old was known as the ’50p man’ on the show that first aired in 2014, and his entrepreneurial spirit captured the hearts of the nation.
He attracted the attention of millionaire businessman Charlie Mullins, who offered him a £10,000 deal to open a 50p discount store to rival Poundland. birmingham live reports.
But after he turned down the offer, claiming the deal wasn’t right for him, Smoggy says things started to go wrong.
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He explained, “I got a lot of publicity from some people for my 50p business after the show aired, but I also got a lot of negativity.
“Shortly after there was a headline in a newspaper saying I was making thousands of pounds after being offered an opportunity by a businessman, my apartment was broken into and three men attacked me with sledgehammers. They thought I had money, but I didn’t.” T. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“There were headlines saying that I had been given a brilliant opportunity and that I had spurned it, but it was not like that.”
The controversial reality show aired about the residents of James Turner Street and ran for two seasons.
Smoggy continued: “Things weren’t exactly what they seemed. I was offered £10,000 to open a shop, but I knew it would cost much more to open a shop. Instead, I wanted a van so I could go around delivering my merchandise door to door, They would have invested me in a van, but in the end I decided to leave.
“Because of the negativity, I decided to hit the 50 pence business on the head. Then I was offered a job selling fish door-to-door at a company in Warwickshire, but it didn’t work out.
“I think they thought my fame could come in handy because I was so well known.
But I couldn’t sell salmon to the people on James Turner Street because they couldn’t afford it and the people who could had no idea who I was because they hadn’t seen Benefits Street.
“I decided I needed to get out of Birmingham. So I moved from Northfield to Scotland.”
Smoggy got a freelance job painting and decorating a nursing home, first in Glasgow and then as a machine operator for a company. But he injured his hand during an accident at work last year and was deemed unfit for work. He is currently in Universal Credit and receiving physio.
He said: “I am heartbroken to be out of work but have been deemed unfit for work at the moment. I went to the physio and they say it could be another six weeks before my wrist is strong enough.”
“I want to get back to work as soon as possible. I don’t want benefits.”
“It was good to move away from Birmingham. But it’s my home and I can’t rule out going back in the future.”
Looking back on the show, he said: “Benefits Street drastically changed my life and not for the better. I could have been killed in that attack and that definitely happened because of my newfound fame.”
“I don’t have a job and I’m behind on my rent. Life is hard for me right now. I just need to get back to work ASAP.”
The father of two came up with the idea for the 50p products after spending four months at HMP Birmingham for a “petty” offense in 2011.
told him before birmingham live She said: “I worked as a cleaner when I was inside, people asked me for things like soap that I sold for a cigarette.
“My time in prison was a reality check, but it gave me time to reflect. I got locked up for something really petty that I regret.
“But they say that things happen for a reason. If I hadn’t gone to jail, the idea of 50p wouldn’t have occurred to me.
“Everyone needs toilet paper, washing powder, tea and coffee. The hardest part was finding a price to charge.
“I want to do the 50 pence thing full time. I want to make it a franchise across the UK. I want people to work with me, not for me.
“I want to set up stalls in every slum where people can pick up essential items for 50 pence.”