Last night we went to see the film, I Daniel Blake. The film is set in Newcastle and follows the struggles of 2 adults on benefits. Daniel Blake is a widower who having worked his whole life as a proud and skilful joiner, has suffered a heart attack and is unable to get back to work as soon as he would like. Consequently, he finds himself stuck in a labyrinthine, bureaucratic, soulless system feeling as though he is going round and round in ever decreasing circles and getting nowhere. Katie has been moved from London with her 2 children to the North East because her local Council can’t find her affordable accommodation in the capital.
Facing the same nightmare Daniel and Katie strike up an unlikely friendship, each, in turn, supporting the other. One of the key scenes in the film is when Katie is accompanied by Daniel to a foodbank so that she can get food to feed her family. Desperately hungry and thinking that no one is looking, she rips off the top of a tin of baked beans and scoops some out with her fingers. It is a heart rending moment to watch. This scene was filmed at the Newcastle West End Foodbank, one of the many foodbanks set up using funding from the Trussell Trust. Gateshead Foodbank, which has recently marked its 4th anniversary, was established in the same way.
Having read reviews of the film before I went to see it and knowing that the work of foodbank would be highlighted I did wonder whether the foodbank featured would be church based or not. It was encouraging that it was. The Trussell Trust is a Christian organisation and up and down the country many thousands of ordinary Christians have been faithfully serving their communities through their local foodbank. When Jesus called for his followers to be ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘light of the world’ we can almost imagine him having this kind of service in mind.
I won’t spoil the rest of the film for you. Please, please go and see it, I promise you that you will laugh out loud and I advise you to take some tissues with you!