Block­buster film gives new per­spec­tive to vol­un­teers

Macclesfield Express - - CHARITY ROUND-UP -

AN award-win­ning film has been used by a char­ity to in­crease un­der­stand­ing of the ben­e­fit process.

Staff and vol­un­teers from Citizens Ad­vice Cheshire North, based on Sun­der­land Street, Mac­cles­field, were given a spe­cial screen­ing of the pow­er­ful movie ‘I, Daniel Blake’, which tells the story of a man who is de­nied em­ploy­ment and sup­port al­lowance de­spite his doc­tor find­ing him un­fit to work.

Will McKel­lar, Citizens Ad­vice Cheshire North chief of­fi­cer, said that the film depicted the prob­lems that many of the Citizens Ad­vice clients have with claim­ing ben­e­fits af­ter an un­fore­seen life event, such as de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in health or loss of a job, and was screened to in­crease ad­vis­ers’ un­der­stand­ing of the im­pact it can have on peo­ple’s lives, for ex­am­ple in lead­ing to un­man­age­able debts when ben­e­fits are sanc­tioned, paid late or with­drawn.

He said: “Far too many of our clients are vul­ner­a­ble and are hav­ing stress piled onto them as a re­sult of this sys­tem that finds very poorly peo­ple “fit for work” when they are clearly not. We’ve helped many ill peo­ple in Mac­cles­field and the sur­round­ing ar­eas to deal with is­sues aris­ing from Em­ploy­ment and Sup­port Al­lowance in­clud­ing mak­ing ini­tial ap­pli­ca­tions, ap­peal­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing other sup­port avail­able”.

Labour Coun­cil­lor Janet Jack­son was also among the guests at the screen­ing, which was held at The Park Tav­ern and fol­lowed by a dis­cus­sion.

Ad­vis­ers and vol­un­teers in Citizens Ad­vice Cheshire North have helped 336 peo­ple with en­quiries con­cern­ing Em­ploy­ment and Sup­port Al­lowance, (ESA), the wel­fare ben­e­fit fea­tured in the film, in the past year. They have also helped peo­ple to ap­peal ben­e­fits that have been sanc­tioned and to ob­tain hard­ship pay­ments. Citizens Ad­vice Cheshire North of­ten refers peo­ple to lo­cal food banks to help with short term emer­gen­cies.

If you would like to speak to Citizens Ad­vice, go to the of­fices on Sun­der­land Street, Mac­cles­field, or call 01625 432847.

Coun­cil­lor Janet Jack­son, cen­tre, joined Liz Heath­cote and Will McKel­lar, from Citizens Ad­vice, for the screen­ing at the Park Tav­ern

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