Partner organisations from across Norfolk attended our exclusive screening of I, Daniel Blake, followed by a Q&A with social housing experts.
Broadland Housing organised the event to highlight the growing issue of homelessness, and encourage joint initiatives to tackle it.
Representatives from Shelter, Norwich City Council and other local organisations watched Ken Loach’s award-winning film at Stage Two, Norwich Theatre Royal.
The screening was followed by a Q&A session, chaired by Broadland Housing Patron, Caroline Pickering. The panel of experts included:
- Cllr Karen Davis, Labour City Councillor and cabinet member for social inclusion
- Lesley Burdett, Hub Manager, Shelter Eastern Counties
- Dr Simon Hibberd, Board member, Broadland Housing, a local GP for 30 years
- Ivan Johnson, Executive Housing Director, Broadland Housing
The discussion covered issues such as:
- The impact of Universal Credit roll-out and how many tenants are falling into arrears due to payment problems, sanctions etc, and becoming vulnerable to loan sharks
- The 30% increase in foodbanks use since April 2017 and the amount spent by the NHS (£29 billion last year) on conditions allied to poverty (“a sick system causes sickness,” said Dr Hibberd, pictured above)
- The number of people with mental health issues, particularly anxiety, being passed as ‘fit for work’ and losing their ESA (Employment and Support Allowance), even though more than 50% of ESA claimants win their case on appeal
- How some local GPs are charging £50 to write a letter in support of an ESA appeal
- The lack of free, digital access for rural communities in Norfolk. (“Norwich City Council’s digital inclusion hubs are working well in Norwich,” said Councillor Davis)
Two main actions were agreed from the evening:
- Broadland to liaise with the Local Medical Committee, and to request that they write to GPs asking them not to charge for letters supporting ESA appeals, as claimants often have no money to pay for them
- Broadland to prepare for Universal Credit roll-out throughout Norfolk in 2018 by working more closely with credit unions and encouraging tenants to join and save with one.
Commenting on the event, Lesley Burdett (pictured, far left) said:
“Ken Loach has put into focus how difficult it is for people to get through the welfare system. Daniel Blake can’t get in because it’s digital access only. The film highlights that it’s real people behind these systems – one size doesn’t fit all. It’s saying we need less ‘systems thinking’ and more human kindness.”
Michael Newey, Chief Executive of Broadland Housing, added:
“We are pleased to see so many of our partner agencies here today. This is a powerful film with a very topical message. It’s a great opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of changes in the benefit system and the, sometimes, disastrous consequences for families and individuals. Often this leads to homelessness and organisations need to work more closely together to address the issues and find answers that will mitigate the potentially damaging impact.
In 2016 Broadland hosted a special screening of Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the influential television drama. Like I, Daniel Blake today, Cathy Come Home provoked an outpouring of public sympathy that translated into support for new homelessness charities Shelter and Crisis.
Read more about how Broadland Housing’s Better Together campaign is working to raise awareness of loneliness and the impact of social isolation.