From award winning director Ken Loach, I, Daniel Blake “is blunt, dignified and brutally moving” according to a Guardian critic, Peter Bradshaw, when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival where it scooped the prestigious Palme d’Or award.
Daniel Blake is a middle-aged widower in the North East who can’t work or get benefits after a near-fatal heart attack. He strikes up a friendship with young single mother, Katie, as the two try to work their way along the assault course that is the benefits system as approved by Westminster.
For Christina McKelvie, who features in the YouTube promotional video for the film, the circumstances are all too familiar and equally frustrating: “I see Daniel Blake every day of my life – in shops, in my surgeries, on the street – trying to steer through a system that seems unwilling to treat them with compassion, fairness or dignity.”
“This is an incredibly personal yet universal account of one person’s journey through the Conservative Government’s welfare programme.
“The reality for many is that, as a result of the welfare reforms, the road back into work, even for those fit enough to follow it, is littered with degradation and humiliation.
“We have the power to be different. When the Scottish Government acquires the means to create our own social security system, we will do so with fairness, dignity and respect at its core.
“Once we have the ability to act for ourselves, this Scottish Government will build a system that features no more Daniel Blake’s. Our mission will be to offer the care and support that people trying to get back to work really need. For those who are unable to work we can and will provide a benefits system that treats people with the care and compassion they deserve.
“I would encourage everyone in the Hamilton area to go and see this film and judge for themselves. Most of us will quickly recognise either ourselves or someone we know who is living the Westminster Tories’ idea of ‘welfare.’ There are a number of present and past Cabinet Secretaries in London who would learn a lot from this film.”
"I am not a client, a customer, nor a service user. I am not a shirker, a scrounger, a beggar nor a thief. I am not a national insurance number, nor a blip on the screen. I paid my dues, never a penny short and proud to do so. I don't tug the forelock but look my neighbour in the eye. I don't accept or seek charity.
"My name is Daniel Blake, I am a man, not a dog. As such, I demand my rights. I demand you treat me with respect.
"I, Daniel Blake, am a citizen, nothing more, nothing less.