As I walked away from watching I, Daniel Blake I saw the world in a different way.
Maybe that homeless man on the bridge was in employment six months ago, before a health issue stopped him working? Things that I’d been fretting about earlier in the day suddenly seemed deeply insignificant. I was partly crying because I’m grateful for what I do have.
Even today, the onslaught against the most vulnerable in our society continues, with the rolling out of a new benefits cap that will affect those for whom life is already a struggle.
Overcome by the fact that I, Daniel Blake represents only two lives when 100,000s of people are experiencing this and worse every day, I most keenly feel a sense of paralysis: what do I do with this anger towards our broken system now?
Hoping that it might help others feeling similar, we have made the conclusion of Kayleigh Garthwaite’s Hunger Pains – ‘Is foodbank Britain here to stay?’ – free to download. Click here for the pdf.
At Policy Press we think about social injustice every day. Our books and journals are published because we want to make a difference and have an impact towards improving lives for vulnerable people.
Even then, we are far-removed from the lives of people like Daniel and Katie. For me, the film was an important reminder of the significance of what we’re trying to do each day in our cosy, happy office.
Panic at the scale of the problem
Over the last year, I have been privileged to work on Kayleigh Garthwaite’s book, Hunger Pains.
Like the film, it tells the heartbreaking stories of people suffering at the dark end of our social security system.
Watching, I Daniel Blake bought the stories in the book to life for me, leaving me with an acute awareness of the scale of the problem and a sense of panic that nothing’s going to change.
But perhaps that doesn’t have to be the case.
What to do next and what needs to change
In the afterword to Hunger Pains, Linda Tirado gives some excellent advice to anyone wondering, ‘what can I do?’:
“Here is what you can do: be kind. Really, honestly, unselfishly kind. Smile at a homeless person and say “Sorry, mate, I don’t carry cash”, instead of ignoring the human who is hoping for a few quid. Recognise the humanity of people who have it hard. It’s not your job to solve all of human misery – just not to cause any if you can help it.”
In the book, Kayleigh addresses the question ‘what needs to change?’. She identifies government intervention, stopping stigmatising people living in poverty and listening to people using foodbanks, as Ken Loach has done.
In the spirit of making a difference we have made this part of the Hunger Pains free to download here, hoping reading more will help you to think about practical ways in which you can channel your own anger to change things.
Whether it be kindness, listening, donating, volunteering, voting, protesting… we don’t have to let the overwhelming sense of injustice paralyse us into no action at all.
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