I, Daniel Blake to be screened at the Engine Room

There will be a special screening of the film I, Daniel Blake at the Engine Room in Bridgwater on Thursday March 30th to coincide with Unite Community’s Day of Action on benefit sanctions.

Andy Mitchell of UNITE Community says “Places can be booked through the Somerset film website. There are 2 ticket types:£3 standard ticket and £10 solidarity ticket for those who can afford a bit more. Places are limited so please book early.In Bridgwater over 6,000 people have been referred for a sanction since the Tories came into power. Ken Loach said recently that he could have filmed I, Daniel Blake in any town in the country.We will collect money for Bridgwater food bank on the night and any surplus money (after paying for the venue) raised from tickets will go to them too.”

Dignity

Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, is a film about one man’s treatment by Britain’s benefits system that left at least one critic in tears and won the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes. Labour Leader  Jeremy Corbyn even told Theresa May to watch it during Prime Minister’s Questions recently.

The film tells the story of Daniel Blake, a 59-year-old joiner who stops work after suffering a massive heart attack. His doctor says he is too unwell to work but the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) declares him fit to work. This makes Job Seekers’ Allowance his only option for benefits as he falls into poverty. But he will be sanctioned, with the money cut off, if he fails to prove he has been actively seeking work, which his doctor has said he is too unwell to take up.Loach, his screenwriter Paul Laverty and their researchers heard stories from current and former DWP employees.  They heard about Job Centre staff being censured if they did not sanction enough people. One man with a long-term illness injured himself after falling at home and refused to get in the ambulance, afraid he would be kept overnight at hospital and then sanctioned for missing a Job Centre appointment the next day.

Compassion

Ken Loach commented “To live at that level of fear. These aren’t cheats. Anybody could fall into that position. A vulnerable workforce means a pool of unemployed and it means low taxes. It means labour laws that won’t defend workers’ interests. The logic of their situation precludes compassion, if, by compassion, we mean everybody having a life of dignity and security.”

Andy Mitchell is Branch Secretary and Treasurer of the UNITE Community Bridgwater and Taunton group, Somerset Community Branch tel;-07413 066036.
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