The Independent London Newspaper
22nd August 2017

I, Daniel Blake director Ken Loach joins vigil for 'fit to work' man who died on way home from job centre

    Ken Loach addressed the vigil for Lawrence Bond in Kentish Town

     
    Published: 26 January, 2017
    By WILLIAM McLENNAN
     
    AWARD-winning film director Ken Loach appeared at a vigil yesterday (Wednesday) for a man ruled “fit for work” who died from a heart attack on his way home from a Jobcentre. And he likened the case to the desperate central character in his campaigning film I, Daniel Blake.
     

    Lawrence Bond, 56, who had multiple health problems, died in the street after leaving the Jobcentre in Kentish Town Road, Kentish Town, two weeks ago.

    Around 50 people were outside the centre, alongside Mr Loach and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, yesterday afternoon to mark his passing.

    Mr Bond was ruled “fit to work” in July and his incapacity benefit – now known as Employment Support Allowance – was cut. He was awaiting the outcome of an appeal at the time of his death.

    Asked if he recognised comparisons that had been made to the eponymous character Daniel Blake, who dies while attending a review of his fit-to-work ruling, Mr Loach told the New Journal: “Absolutely. He was a man of similar age, he was a man who has worked almost all his life. It’s absolutely comparable and it’s a monstrous injustice and the government should be driven from office. If they don’t know what they’re doing, they’re not competent. If they do know, they’re not fit.”

    The newly-appointed shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, Debbie Abrahams MP, was also at the vigil organised by Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group and WinVisible disabled women’s group. The crowd called for an end to cuts to the welfare budget and chanted “we are all Lawrence Bond”.

    Mr Bond, who lived in Gillies Street, Kentish Town, suffered from prolonged health problems, including mobility and breathing difficulties associated with being overweight. He was ordered to attend a “mandatory reconsideration” last year and his support was removed following a “work capability assessment”, which was carried out by private American firm Maximus. As a result, he was forced to sign on and search for work. He died in Highgate Road on January 12, shortly after leaving a Jobcentre appointment.

    Addressing a crowd of around 50 people yesterday afternoon, Mr Loach said the government must “end the assessments by Maximus or whatever bunch of profit-making villains are put in their place”. 

    Lawrence Bond

    The NHS, not profit-making multinational firms, should instead be funded to carry out the assessments, he said.

    Mr Bond’s sister, Iris Green, told the New Journal last week that her brother had been employed since the age of 16 until two years ago when “his weight and unfitness made him unemployable”. She said his health deteriorated while he was unemployed, adding: “His anxiety was getting worse as he could not pay bills and was afraid to leave home to go to the shops. Two referrals his GP had made for mental health services had been lost and he said he felt annoyed about that.”

    Mr Bond’s friend, Laila Victory, who joined the vigil, said: “Lawrence was a lovely man – a very good friend to a lot of people, a very good friend to me and my son, always very supportive to people.

    “It’s a great shame that he didn’t get the help that he needed and deserved. Before Lawrence died, apparently he was trying to get an assessment to get some mental health services and he was finding it really difficult, and the anxiety of all this, I’m sure, really didn’t help.”

    Ms Abrahams told the crowd: “Surely the government should have the message by now. It’s absolutely unacceptable, that a state policy around work capability assessments, around sanctions, is causing the death of people.”

    A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said in response to news of Mr Bond’s death last week: “The local Jobcentre had been supporting Mr Bond and our sympathies are with his family at this difficult time.

    “ESA decisions are made following a thorough assessment and after considering all of the evidence, including that provided by a claimant’s doctor or other medical professionals. Anyone who disagrees with a decision can ask for it to be reconsidered, and if they still disagree they can appeal.”

    An inquest, due to take place at St Pancras Coroner’s Court in June, will examine the circumstances surrounding Mr Bond’s death.

     

    Comments

    LAWRENCE BOND

    Clearly, Mr Bond was able to make his way unassisted to the job centre; this alone puts him several steps above people with real incapacity. Furthermore, it's become almost too convenient to 'disable' one self through lifestyle choice. Maybe I should consider bingeing on fast food daily, as well as smoke heavily and drink copious amounts of alcohol, in order to make myself eligible for handouts........

    Martin Durham - NW3

    He will forgive you for your terrible words.

    This man was one of the most hard working and gentle men that I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Our family only had the honour of knowing him for two short years before his passing and in that short space of time we very quickly realised that this wonderful man was incredibly proud, honourable, decent and caring and would do anything for anyone in need. He did not drink or smoke and was a super cook offering us a wonderful hearty lentil dish the week before he went home. So please, be mindful of your words, this man was a very good man and would never say a word against anyone, not even you in your moment of arrogance here. RIP Mr Bond x x x

    Dear Mr Durham,

    I do hope that you are never struck down with an illness that affects your lofty lifestyle, else you'll be hounded for being able to attend your MANDATORY job centre appointments (Which on WRAG are only every few months) however much pain you're in, or however many times you've had to stop to rest on the short walk there. Take a long hard look in the mirror. L Culnane - NW3.

    Disability and Mr Bond

    Dear Sir,
    I neither drink, smoke, gamble, nor eat junk food.
    I am however disabled and it isn't due to lifestyle choices but illness. I wish people would stop judging disabled people as scroungers, I worked before and after becoming ill but had to stop recently due to worsening health. Unless you are in this position yourself you are unable to know how it feels, or the impact it has on others. I hope you never have to find out.

    Disability and Mr Bond

    Dear Sir,
    I neither drink, smoke, gamble, nor eat junk food.
    I am however disabled and it isn't due to lifestyle choices but illness. I wish people would stop judging disabled people as scroungers, I worked before and after becoming ill but had to stop recently due to worsening health. Unless you are in this position yourself you are unable to know how it feels, or the impact it has on others. I hope you never have to find out.

    Not just a name on paper.

    I am sad that Mr Bond had to die for the anyone to notice. I have been homeless for over 2 years now with no assistance whatsoever. I struggle daily with mental health difficulties, but because I have no home I am refused mental health care. Before I was made homeless I had to be on a waiting list for over a year. When they finally got around to seeing me I was given a diagnoses and left to it. I then saw a counsellor who told me I was fine and I was looking for something to be wrong with me, even though I have a diagnosis and obvious trauma. Last year I was instructed to go to social services. They refused to find housing and wanted me to sign a consent form. Since they weren't helping I declined. Their solicitor then contacted an abuser in my family(I am over 25)without my consent and told him where I was. I have been afraid ever since to contact them again. Nothing was done to sanction the solicitor for making this decision without my permission. Not only has she put my life in danger, but it has made me more vulnerable than I already am. I cannot approach the local authority due to this safety issue. Again and again people with mental health difficulties are overlooked, with the stress of having to try and cope every day without any support. Mr Bond didn't have to die. He's not just a name on a paper. He was a human being who was refused support as so many of us are. Why does someone have to die before anything is done?

    mr bond death

    this firm maximus are there just lot money some poor person who his on esa give work capability assessment
    they give hell on earth
    like to maximus ceo/md assessment how there look at person /human beige

    Winvisible and all at the

    Winvisible and all at the Women's Centre in Kentish Town, support so many vulnerable people and have co-organised this vigil, with the voice of Ken Loach at the helm. Isn't it time we all get involved with actively supporting those whose struggles are made so much worse when being failed by a system which is meant to protect? It's not fun living with challenges on a daily basis, only to be made scared, less independent and judged, because one happens to also be poor!! What is it with our society that to be wealthy no matter how one acquired it, no matter how ethical one behaves, the rich who can influence changes in policies, tax relief/and legal avoidance, don't and still we judged those who need a helping hand, when really, no one should ever have to!!!

    Tasha Cox and I have been homeless, poor, depressed, judged....it sucks and could absolutely happen to anyone....

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