Central England Law Centre Partners with The Belgrade Theatre to Offer Community Support During Run of I, Daniel Blake 6 November 2023 - The critically acclaimed stage premiere of the multi-award-winning film, first released in 2016, will be playing at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry from 8-11 November and Central England Law Centre has partnered with the Belgrade to offer community support for Coventry residents experiencing the issues that the play explores. The play offers a social, realist depiction of the impacts of austerity and the welfare system in Britain told from the point of view of a 59-year-old Geordie who has suffered a heart attack at work and a single mother who has been rehomed hundreds of miles away from her home, friends and family in London. With the latest report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation describing ‘a shameful level of destitution in the UK, with a growing number of people struggling to afford to meet their most basic physical needs to stay warm, dry, clean and fed’, this is a story that is a lived reality for too many people in this country and for many of the people in Coventry and Birmingham that we support. Current research (Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Trussell Trust) suggests that 20% of the population are living in poverty. In Coventry alone, that equates to around 70,000 people, of which 28,000 are children. Across the city, the numbers of foodbank users have doubled since Ken Loach’s film was released in 2016. The city now sees 30,000 people dependent on foodbanks. And with nearly three-quarters of people experiencing destitution in receipt of social security payments, the themes of an inadequate benefit system that subjects people to a constant threat of sanctions and bureaucratic work capability assessments are more relevant than ever. Emma Bates, Director of Positive Action on Poverty, Central England Law Centre, said: Sadly, the themes and issues that Loach explored in his 2016 film have not gone away, they have worsened. Every day, the Law Centre supports residents of Coventry who are struggling with the cost of living, who are being forced to rely on foodbanks and social supermarkets; who are falling further behind with rent and bills; and, just like the character in the play, an alarming number are being subject to unfair decisions by the DWP. We not only provide people with early legal help so they are better able to understand their rights and challenge unfair decisions; we also work in partnership with other organisation to change unfair systems and policies to make our country a fairer and more just place for all the real-life Daniel Blakes. In 2023 Central England Law Centre represented 224 people at Welfare Benefits Tribunals with a success rate of 91%, securing more than £2.4m in backdated payments. The Law Centre will be at the Belgrade offering support and advice to the people of Coventry on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon from midday and there will be a special panel discussion with Hanna Findley (Welfare Benefits Solicitor, Central England Law Centre) and Hugh McNeil from Coventry foodbank, along with members of the cast, on Friday, 10th November.