BENEFIT claimants from Leeds have lent their voices to a new animated film about life on the dole that is being launched at the House of Commons today.
The group of 15 jobless men and women, all from in or around the Gipton area, were interviewed by a researcher from the University of Leeds on the effects of welfare reform. Recordings of their stories were later synced to ‘claymation’ talking heads in the style of Nick Park’s Creature Comforts TV series.
Film-maker Ellie Land’s resulting 10-minute ‘short’ is entitled All In This Together: Are Benefits Ever a Lifestyle Choice?.
The input from its anonymous contributors covers subjects such as the misery of losing a home and the impact of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.
Today’s Westminster launch is part of a push to get the film’s message across directly to the country’s decision-makers.
Ruth Patrick, from the University of Leeds’s school of sociology and social policy, carried out the initial interviews that helped spawn the documentary.
She said: “Both this film and my research into the lived experiences of welfare reform demonstrate the extent of the mismatch between government rhetoric and the reality for those struggling to survive on out-of-work benefits.
“While the government is all too quick to characterise benefits as a lifestyle choice, the people I spoke to were often quite desperate to find paid work, and commonly described being on benefits very negatively.”
The film has been funded by the National Lottery, with support coming from the Gipton Supported Independent Living charity as well as the Child Poverty Action Group and the University of Leeds.
All In This Together: Are Benefits Ever a Lifestyle Choice? will be screened at the Carriageworks arts complex in Leeds at 6pm on Thursday, November 7.