Earlier this month, Oxford Brookes’ Human Rights Festival screened Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake’. The film tells the harrowing experiences of Daniel and Katie, who are struggling to navigate the injustice of the UK’s benefits system.
Through a cycle of unfair sanctions, poor computer literacy and not being able to work (or to secure it), they find themselves isolated. They have to use food banks and they are under threat of eventually losing what is left of their health and their homes. It is easy to hear stories like Dan’s and Katie’s and feel angry, but powerless to change things for the better.
Brookes Hub is here to tell you that you can create change. There is no one way, or one action, to make the world a better place. Day after day, positive change is built through the actions of millions of people like us, making life for others that bit fairer.
Every action you choose to take as a result of feeling these injustices in our country, or the world more widely, can really make a difference to someone . Even if these actions seem small to you, they could enrich your own life as well.
On the Friday after the screening, Brookes Hub arranged an opportunity for students to tackle the issues the film portrayed. Students new to the Hub were invited to show up and join our food collection, gathering donations for the Oxford Food Bank from local residents. Our team brought together a mix of years, degrees and even national backgrounds, but we all shared the same drive to take action.
We kicked off the event with a talk and tour of the Oxford Food Bank, a local charity distributing food to homelessness charities and other community organisations. They rely on an amazing volunteer network to carry out their activities.
Afterwards, the energy was high when we hit the nearby streets, knocking on doors and chatting with residents. It was exciting to meet so many people who were already supporting the Oxford Food Bank. Donations soon filled up our collection sacks and we struggled to carry the weight of them!
By giving a few hours of our time, more people in Oxford were able to get a meal for free, more local community services were able to run without having to spend their small funds on food, and people living near the Oxford Food Bank said they were now more likely to donate spare food in the future .
When our communities unite, we are powerful, not powerless.