How Many Real Katies Will The DWP Create? #IDanielBlake
Last night, I watched I, Daniel Blake. I realised a few things while watching it. I like to think that I am a successful writer. I like to think that Same Difference is a successful blog.
But as the movie began with Daniel Blake’s ESA assessment, I began to recall previous posts I’ve written here. Posts about pointless questions that claimants have been asked at Work Capability Assessments they should never have had to attend. I realised that my readers are Daniel Blake. I realised how easily I could be Daniel Blake, too.
The character I really related to in Ken Loach’s documentary, however, was not Daniel Blake, brilliantly played as he was by Dave Johns. It was his friend Katie, a young single mother he meets at the JobCentre. Hayley Squires’ character has recently moved to Newcastle from London.
Readers, I am Katie. I am a young woman from London. My mother is older than Katie, but she could easily be her. And as I watched Daniel Blake go through pointless jobsearches, be forced to apply for JSA while he waited to appeal his unsuccessful WCA result, and build a friendship with Katie and her two young children, I wondered how many real Katies the DWP will create.
I watched Katie eat an apple for dinner while feeding her children and her new friend, Daniel Blake, the food she had prepared. And I realised my mother would do exactly the same thing, if ever she had to. I watched Katie break down in tears from extreme hunger in the middle of a food bank, while opening a tin and desperately trying to eat its contents in secret. I’ve often teased my mum for eating her shopping- but that scene made me grateful that we have those conversations in supermarkets, not food banks.
I watched Katie shoplift for the first time in her life because she couldn’t afford everything she needed from the supermarket. But when Katie turned to prostitution to ‘buy the kids fresh fruit,’ that was when I started wondering how many real Katies the DWP will create.
I realised that I have written here in the past about many Daniel Blakes. Too many to mention, or even start linking to. I thanked goodness that I have never, yet, written about a Katie- a female claimant forced to turn to prostitution to give her kids the life she wants for them. But I realised how easily I could write about a Katie.
I can’t help wondering if the DWP has already created any real Katies. I can’t help wondering how many more real Katies the DWP will create.
Those Katies will all want what my mother wants- the best for their children. They will all turn to prostitution as a last resort. I only hope that all those Katies will meet a Daniel Blake at the JobCentre- someone who will help them even when they are forced to turn to that last resort.