I, Daniel Blake film leads to rise in support for South Tyneside food bank helping struggling families

Angie Comeford and Jo Durkin
Angie Comeford and Jo Durkin

The TV screening of a film highlighting impoverished families living on benefits has led to an outpouring of support for a South Tyneside-based community group.

Founders of Hebburn Helps, Angie Comerford and Jo Durkin say they have been inundated with messages from people after I, Daniel Blake was aired on BBC 2 on Saturday night.

The film has really opened people’s eyes to the real hardship these families and their children face, and why the support we give is so vital.

Angie Comerford

The film centres on a 59-year-old joiner from Newcastle advised by a doctor not to return to work following a heart attack.

However, he is denied employment and support allowance after a work capability assessment rules he is fit and able.

He develops a strong bond with a young girl, with two children, who is also destitute.

Read More: Find out how a film sparked a new scheme for Hebburn Helps
The film - an attack on the benefits system - depicts his life as he struggles to make ends meet with no income coming in and no date for an appeal against the original decision which could see him receiving benefits.

When the film was first released it led to the pair, who founded the charity to help struggling families with foods and essentials, to increase their support further for those financial hardship.

This Christmas, the group helped to provide food to make more than 153 Christmas dinners for struggling families, delivered more than 168 food hampers for the elderly, handed 120 blessing bags filled with toiletries to the homeless, dropped off 15 hampers for dogs and four for cats and ensured more than 434 children woke up on Christmas Day to a variety of presents.

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Charity bosses are deligheted by the reaction of people from South Tyneside after the movie was shown on terrestrial TV for the first time at the weekend.

Angie said: “I, Daniel Blake is such an amazing film and highlights what is wrong with the benefits system.

“I knew, when it was shown that we’d receive messages, but never as many as what we have.

“The film has really opened people’s eyes to the real hardship these families and their children face, and why the support we give is so vital.”

Already the film has prompted a number of volunteers to contact the cause to offer their services.

Angie added: “It has definitely raised awareness. When we came in yesterday morning we had three people contact us to offer their time as volunteers.

“It is such a heartbreaking film, but one that needed to be made.”

For information on Hebburn Helps, visit the group on Facebook or hebburnhelps.co.uk/