A HUNDRED people filled the Kingsgate Community Centre in Kilburn, for a community screening of I, Daniel Blake on Saturday February 25.
Organised by Camden Momentum, the event was held in order to bring Ken Loach’s award-winning film to those of us who could not afford West End ticket prices.
It brought together local people, including those directly affected by welfare and disability cuts, and NHS campaigners.
The audience was diverse, from different backgrounds and nationalities — many came from local estates and community groups.
The hard-hitting film — which depicts the struggle of a disabled claimant and a single mother denied benefits — moved many to tears. The film lays bare the personal tragedies created by the benefit system.
In a speak-out after the film, Lawrence Bond, the local man who collapsed and died in similar circumstances to the character Daniel Blake, after also being declared “Fit for work,” was remembered.
A friend of Mr Bond had travelled from Brighton to see the film and take part in the discussion. She spoke about how much he is missed and said she was shocked by how closely the film mirrored his battle to get help and the misery inflicted upon the most vulnerable people.
Bernard Miller, a member of Unite Community said he watched I, Daniel Blake repeatedly thinking “that’s me.” He said the film does npt depict a benefits system not working but one working exactly the way this government intends.
WinVisible, Dpac and Gill Thompson (sister of David Clapson, another person killed by the benefits system), spoke about campaigning and sharing self-help benefit rights information, and invited people to take part in upcoming actions against the latest proposed benefit cuts for people with disabilities.
Ola from the All African Women’s Group described how the policy of destitution particularly affects women and said asylum-seekers were among the first to suffer but this has now been extended to everyone else, so that a million people are forced to use foodbanks, similar to the mother portrayed in the film.
A member of the English Collective of Prostitutes spoke emotionally of how the film shows the terrible impact of benefit sanctions and grinding poverty which force women to turn to prostitution and puts prostitution in what she called its rightful context — one way mothers are refusing poverty. She attacked the cruelty of criminalising mothers going into sex work.
Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, sent a message of support and local councillor Thomas Gardiner spoke about he and his partner being carers.
A woman with Lupus, whose mother is her main carer and who is fighting hospital closures, spoke passionately saying: “It is criminal that the human rights of those most vulnerable are being disregarded by this government.”
She added that although it is a struggle for people with disabilities to organise, she was determined to keep up the fight, including defending the NHS which she and others particularly depend on.
The co-ordinator of Global Women’s Strike Selma James encouraged everyone to take action and support the International Women’s Strike on March 8, when women in over 40 countries will take time off from waged and unwaged work.
Organisers thanked Ken Loach’s team for making this important film, which is strengthening grassroots campaigning and which he has made available to communities at a low cost.
The response to the film has been tremendous, and Camden Momentum aims to organise another community screening soon.
The International Women’s Strike organised by Global Women’s Strike will take place on March 8. For more information including events in you local area visit mstar.link/WomensStrike2017.