Blockbuster film gives new perspective to volunteers
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it can have on people’s lives, for example in leading to unmanageable debts when benefits are sanctioned, paid late or withdrawn.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