Hello Dear Reader,
I could have waited for the film to be on TV but I couldn’t wait.
I’ve been an unemployed single mum on benefits and it really was the depths of hell but it was a bed of roses compared to the punitive sanctions imposed on people in the current system. I was young, living in the affluent south, where there was work that I got within six months. I wasn’t sanctioned if I was too sick to make it to an appointment, I wasn’t penalised for renting a two bedroom house, I was never given a food bank referral and I wasn’t unemployed in the times of media orchestrated social humiliation of the poor.
I, Daniel Blake could be any one of us in the current economic climate. Families have no savings and wouldn’t make it beyond three months of unemployment before losing their home or tenancy. Bailiffs would take possessions when bills can’t be paid, debts would swamp families if they didn’t already and we’d all be at the mercy of the benefits system. If you had school age children, whether you had child care for them or not, you’d have to have proof of thirty five hours a week of job seeking even if there was no work where you and if you couldn’t prove it then you could be sanctioned. In short, you and your kids would lose enough of a percentage of their benefits that you’d go hungry.
The film was visceral.
I left a silent cinema of a shaken audience.
It was not easy viewing.
I’m home now in my warm cottage, with my bills paid and we’ve eaten well three times today.
What difference can any of us make?
This time of the year sees The Trussell Trust getting a lot of donations but they need them all year, our local food bank currently needs tinned meat, fish, fruit juice. Normally they just give food but people also need toiletries, sanitary products, disposable nappies, pet food, loo rolls.
Our local clothing bank will get coats, trousers but families also need socks, underwear, bras and socks and underwear for children. They also need bedding, duvets, school uniform and the children need stationery for school along with school bags, PE kit and pencil cases. Children needs books, toys, babies need baby equipment. If you’re unemployed for months and months on end and you can’t afford to keep up with your growing children and one beaurocratic nightmare after the next can mean you can’t keep them warm and clothed.
Animal shelters sadly have to take in pets when people lose their jobs or can’t afford them but the PDSA have always been there to treat pets when families fall in hard times. You can consider donating or purchasing from their charity shops.
There are a whole load of charities who support families who don’t have enough to eat, but they need a whole more than sympathy. Whilst they walk the breadline they don’t need cheap poverty porn TV using them as a source of humorous derision, they don’t need far right press using them as a scapegoat and calling them dole scroungers. What everyone needs to remember is that over thirteen million Britons live in poverty and not one of them chose it.
Any of us could be unemployed and on benefits, both DB and I have been in the past and both of us count our blessings at our current comforts. We weren’t scroungers, we didn’t expect hand outs and we just needed help!
Plenty of people need help and respect in difficult times.
Daniel Blake could be any of us.
Love Froogs xxxx