On Friday March 3rd, Disability History Scotland and Greater Leith Against the Cuts held a community screening of Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake at the Leith Community Education Centre. The BAFTA award-winning film follows Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) a 59 year-old joiner unemployed due to illness, caught in the bureaucracy of work capability assessments and benefits sanctions in modern Britain. Although a drama, it’s not truly fictional – certainly, I, Daniel Blake captures the reality of many citizens who have experienced cruel and illogical benefits sanctions, as well as being forced into finding work when they have a disability that prevents them from doing so, and is a far truer account of the modern ‘welfare state’ than you’ll ever receive from the current government.
The screening was accompanied by a question and answer session with local councillors and candidates ahead of the Scottish Local Council elections on Thursday May 4th. These were Councillors Marion Donaldson and Nick Gardner (Scottish Labour, Leith Walk), Susan Rae (Scottish Green Party, Leith Walk) and Tim Wight (Scottish Liberal Democrats, Forth.)
There was also a presentation from Bill Scot of Inclusion Scotland, who spoke about the Scottish Government’s upcoming Experience Panels, where at least 2,000 people with direct personal experience of the current social security system are being recruited to give their views on the design of Scotland’s new welfare system, to shape, build and refine a better model. Scottish Ministers have made clear they want to reach as many people with recent experience of benefits as possible, and it is crucial to get a wide representation across all of the devolved benefits. More information about the panels is available here.
Finally, Matt Wheatley gave a short overview of the work of Greater Leith Against the Cuts. If you’d like to find out more about the organisation or get further involved, please contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to a fun and informative evening, £197 donations were collected for worthwhile causes, including the local food bank. We’d like to thank all of those who put so much hard work into making this event a success – Matt Wheatley and Greater Leith Against the Cuts, Bill Scott and Inclusion Scotland, Willie Black and UNITE, and Disability History Scotland’s own Alex Callaghan.
The next I, Daniel Blake screening will be held at Norton Park Conference Centre on Friday April 28th 2017. More information coming soon…