Sunday, 22 January 2017

I have been Daniel Blake; I was Katie Morgan

Finally, I managed to see this movie and I sobbed uncontrollably throughout. I was Katie Morgan and I have been Daniel Blake. The memories and triggers came back so strong during many scenes that I thought I was going to have to leave the cinema. Ken Loach’s accurate portrayal of poverty and the benefits system was so poignant and acute that I found myself wanting to scream out in the cinema. I wanted to scream “this was me”. I cannot begin to explain how it feels to be so poor you cannot feed yourself, only your children and you don’t eat for days and feel so hungry you eat cold baked beans from the tin. During the movie I had heart palpitations and thought I was going to hyperventilate and have a panic attack, I was so traumatised by the portrayal of a poor single mum just trying to do what’s right for her kids; I thought I would pass out. And no, I am not a neurotic attention seeking Mum, I am real, honest and feel things and want you to understand how very real the I, Daniel Blake meassage really is.

I was Katie Morgan. Single parent, no money, working all hour’s God made just to put food on the table for my child and keep a roof over our heads. I was a Nursery School Manager, working 15 hour days but, alone, I could never earn enough in this particular industry to cover my immediate costs. Before I had even bought food I had to earn £1000.00 to cover my mortgage and utilities. I lost my house to the bank; finally, they took it from me and we were homeless. I have never owned a house since and my retirement looks bleak financially.

I couldn’t afford to pay for gas and electric so I had meters put into the house, but no one tells you they cost more than the usual tariffs; the Utility companies ripping off the most vulnerable and the poor. I asked for them to be removed, but it cost £400.00 to have them taken out; I was locked in and no more 50pence pieces went in, I couldn’t afford it. Like Katie Morgan, we sat in the dark with candles and night lights in our coats, hats, gloves and scarves, wrapped up in blankets with a hot water bottle, night after night to keep warm. Or we went to bed, snuggled up together, just to endeavour to keep warm. My child has experienced things no child should, but we have always had each other and have always survived.

I was Katie Morgan. I still worked long hours but still had very little money for food. I borrowed small amounts of cash from friends every week just so I could feed my daughter and I ate toast for breakfast lunch and dinner. I was hungry and depressed; is this what life is all about? Is this what life should be like? None of this was in my game plan but after domestic abuse, surviving and survival was the only way forward. I had no choice but to show my daughter my inner strength for her future.

I was Daniel Blake. The first time I used the Job Centre I was appalled. The queues and the wait time, then how they spoke to me as if I was a piece of shit on the bottom of their shoe. The hoops I had to jump through to be paid trivial amounts of money. I had to share my private life with the Job Centre only to be told I was not entitled to anything. Because I owned my house and earned too much I could not get anything. I was one of the Great British Public that was stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. I would need to not work or earn less money, be homeless and evicted and then if I was lucky I might be assisted. I complained to the manager of Job Centre Plus three times about the treatment of me but nothing changed. They asked the same questions, made me prove I had job searched and sent me to interviews where it was obvious I would never be employed. I hated how they treated everyone the same. Everyone was put into the same box – scroungers, thick, unintelligent wasters who didn’t want to work – I was appalled to be treated this way, but no amount of complaining changed a bureaucratic brainwashing system – every customer service assistant was like a robot. They had been trained to speak the same language and not deviate from the crib sheet. Job Centre Plus you should be ashamed.

I was Daniel Blake. The stress levels were inexplicable. I hated going to the Job Centre weekly and going through the same process with yet another robotic customer service assistant. In the end, I gave up. It was less stressful to sit at home with no gas and electric and lose my house to the bank. How can that be right? What a way to treat the most vulnerable people in our society. They never did get me a job. I found it myself through sheer hard work and determination, knocking on doors, selling myself and sending out my experience resume. I have worked worked worked to get where I am today and I still work hard. But I also give back and help others because I know how it feels to be alone, scared, depressed and suicidal.

So, my uncontrollable sobs that came from deep within my soul while watching “I, Daniel Blake the Movie” were pent up years of unresolved trauma, PTSD and triggers that were brought to the surface by this great movie. Please do not be under any illusion whatsoever that Ken Loach et al has exaggerated the story line and life of Katie Morgan or Daniel Blake. I have chest pains and trouble breathing just writing this blog post. The memories of those times of severe hardship are so excruciatingly painful that even now it’s almost too much to bear. So, when poor Daniel suffers another major heart attack at the end of the movie don’t be under any illusion that this is “farfetched”. Many have suffered at the hands of the benefits system and bedroom tax and even passed away during the austerity in Great Britain. Dealing with the robots at Job Centre Plus, food banks, mortgage companies and piles of threatening brown envelopes pushed through my letterbox every morning was incredibly stressful. Letters requesting immediate payment, stamped “final bill” in bright red across the middle of the page or opening a court order was excruciatingly painful and I did not have a bean to pay. I was so scared and depressed I gave up opening them in the end; it was easier. The pile grew and became an origami sculpture on the worktop.

I was Katie Morgan and I have been Daniel Blake.

There are hundreds of Katie Morgan’s and Daniel Blake’s still suffering now at the wicked hands of austerity and the benefits system. Many of us are definitely not scroungers or wasters. Most of us just want to survive with the basics of life – love, warmth, clothing, food and a roof over our heads. My basic human rights, yes? And the rights of my child, yes, what do you think? 

I was Katie Morgan only ever trying to do right by my child - just like her. 

And as for Daniel, no one should die due to excessive stress just trying to get help from a system set up, supposedly, to help the most needy to survive and live a fairer life. What a waste of a decent human life; I, Daniel Blake was a special person, he was talented, intelligent, kind and caring. The establishment has forgotten that we pay in during our lifetime in order to get something back when the going gets real tough. We shouldn't have to fight for that. I am no waster or shirker of work and I expect people to treat me with respect even at my lowest point.

Shameful. The system is shameful and disgraceful.

So, my sobs were justified. I not only sobbed for me and my daughter, but I sobbed for all those out there that I know still fight the system, Job Centre Plus, the government, the establishment, courts, judges and justice. I sobbed for all of us that have suffered, and are still suffering, excruciating pain at the wicked hands of these individuals and organisations. 



  1. Wonderfully written. Brought me to tears xx

  2. Thank you for your response. I am touched that you could feel it through my writing and post. That time was black and bleak but I have moved to a different space now. Nevertheless there are many out there where "I Daniel Blake" is a fact of life. Job Centre Plus is a nightmare on earth if you are desperate. Shameful. Thanks again for responding and commenting. Best wishes :-))