I , Daniel Blake is a Palme d'Or and Bafta-winning film that is in cinemas now. It was filmed in Newcastle and events happen close to Launchpad's Avondale House on the Byker Estate. Wrapped around a human story or two, the film points out the sometimes horrendous processes through which benefits' applicants are put through. The system is complicated, it is only online and so applicants must be computer-capable, worst of all, the sanctions process can trip up people on benefits, stopping payments to those who most desperately need financial support.
Of course, there is another side, that of the Welfare State trying to live within budgets, to have clear and strict rules that are equable, to encourage people into work rather than to stay out of work as well as helping people in difficulties. It is true to life that even in this ruled-infested and performance-monitored climate depicted in the film, emotion emerges, thus making the hard-faced authorities melt a little in the face of hardship and the need for pure commonsense. Government Department authority, represented most by the unseen "Decison Maker", made one groan at the hard-hearted, crassness of the system.
Ultimately, Daniel Blake is a posthumous hero and the story produces a wetted eye or two. Is it reality? Some of it, yes. Is it inevitable? Probably.
Bringing this all back to home, Launchpad has a benefit expert in each of its houses to help the residents, our veterans, get what benefits they are entitled to and to help them avoid falling foul of the horrors of process and sanctions. The Launchpad members of staff also help veterans make ends meet by pointing out where food banks are; imagine my surprise then, when I noticed some residents of Launchpad on the silver screen, extras, queueing at the film's food bank - and then, capping it all, a credit at the end of this wonderful film to Armed Forces and Veterans Launchpad. It made my day.