WASPI Support from Palm D’Or Winner Ken Loach

At Derby’s Quad’s screening of ‘The Spirit of 45′, 17th August, I met 79 year old Ken Loach, the World famous film maker. You may recall Ken is the winner of this year’s Palme D’ Or awards with his film ‘I Daniel Blake’. His previous classics were ‘Kes’ and ‘Cathy come home’. However both of us share a common interest in the struggles of ordinary people and ‘living history’ documentary recordings of people’s stories before they die. That is why I was drawn to join the audience last Wednesday, for the showing of ”The spirit of 45 ”. This is a documented ‘living history film’ featuring footage and recordings from desperately poor adults and children who had lived through the war. The ‘Spirit of 45’ captures the recordings of ordinary people afraid of doctors bills and living in squalor to the benefits of the National Health Service in 1947, the slum clearances and council house building. My parents moved to a council home in 1963 and for the first time I experienced running hot water, an inside toilet, and a garden. I recall telling my teacher that we were ”flitting” and was really sad that she told me off for using common words! I didn’t care as the new house was a dream after the slum I lived in for my first 9 years.

My grandfather and father both worked all their lives in coal mines and steel works and helped re-build Britain after the war. I was born in 1954 when rationing and austerity had ceased to play a big part in the lives of ordinary people, but tales of ‘the war and Sheffield in flames’ were never far from the memories of those adults around me. The women Ken featured in his film ‘The Spirit of 45’ with their turbaned heads, scrubbing their steps were all glad to be ”flitting” to a new home! You could say that Ken’s film really spoke to those of us born to parents who were lifted out of poverty by the ‘Spirit of 45’.

My parents died years ago, and long before I had my letter from the D.W.P. The Dept of Worry and No Pension, stating that I would not be eligible for my £115 per week state pension until I was on the cusp of my 66th birthday despite beginning employment just after my July birthday. My friend started work when she was 14 years old as she wasn’t 15 until the August.

I spoke to Ken Loach and a packed studio audience that the 1950’s born women were left without an expected state pension which had been replaced by means tested benefits running the risk of sanctions. That I had read of single impoverished women in their 60’s forced to live on the nest egg they had had to release early years before their state pension age. The poorest were left in an ‘heat or eat’ situation adopting survival mechanisms reminiscent of the 1930’s that both my parents were born in to and times they thought were behind us for good.

One woman in her 60’s unable to find employment asked on a support website if she was ”too old to be a sex worker ” ? At this point I thought of returning to writing more strange but true stories for publication, swapping my past themes of grandfather’s hip replacement on the day Princess Diana came to open the new geriatric wing and the Security forces dancing around on the flat roof of his ward disturbing him, for senior women with no pension going through bins looking for a sandwich in what is for us the ‘Spectre of 2016’ .

I put it to Ken that he may consider making a film that focused on the daughters of parents like my own that were born in poverty in the 1930’s, but were fortunate to benefit from ‘The spirit of 45’s better housing, health service, programmes, the sort that saved my life, and spared me the Old Wives remedy of ‘sweaty socks round the neck to cure my tonsillitis’ because mum and dad couldn’t afford the doctor. Times however were to take a nose dive in the future for their female off-spring. Their 1950’s born daughters, the generation to be spared rationing thanks to their parents efforts to make this county strong again are now shockingly cast in to a financial wilderness by the loss of their expected state pension by a society busy dishing out big bonuses for bankers.

Despite their worn out limbs, the daughters of those ordinary men and women who helped make this country strong again after the war, through their toil, have been financially squeezed like a tube of ‘Arthritic joint and back rub’ . Some will not live long enough to draw a few bob’ pension.

For this reason I asked Ken Loach if he would support the daughters and granddaughters of those who fought in the war, and helped make Britain strong again as part of the’Spirit of 45′, and consider documenting the stories of the 1950’s born women now impoverished by the loss of their expected state pension and their means of survival ?

This could be another Ken Loach award winning documentary film as we are getting older and the time to record our stories is now.

If you would like to find out more about the Waspi women in your area, or just share your story then you can contact WASPI.

 

By Karen (WASPI)

10 thoughts on “WASPI Support from Palm D’Or Winner Ken Loach

  • 20th August 2016 at 11:25 am
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    Brilliant piece, let’s hope Ken takes this on for #1950swomen

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  • 20th August 2016 at 1:12 pm
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    What a fantastic idea xxx

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  • 21st August 2016 at 8:56 am
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    Brill ! use me as example-widow at 56, husband never got any pension I am 62 and working as enforcement officer to pay bills as no pension until 65yrs 6mths 19days

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  • 21st August 2016 at 9:05 am
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    Thank you for this lovely article and for asking Ken if he’s able to help us.

    I sent Ken’s secretary my blog, a few months back, (Heartbreak Of A Pensionless Pensioner) when I first heard about ‘I, Daniel Blake’, his latest film on the horrors happening to so many within our Welfare System now, thanking him for making it and explaining that so many of we 1950s women are now caught up in this horror too.

    He’s a kind, gentle, compassionate man, of deep integrity…and I have huge respect for his work and for the way he’s given so much of his life to trying to help those at the bottom of the ladder, highlighting the gross injustices within what has, so sadly, come to be accepted as ‘normal society’.

    Yes, we are The Daughters of those brave men and women who fought so hard to keep this country free from Hitler, from crazy dictators, to make the world a far better place…and oh, how that happened, with our NHS and Welfare State being created in a time of FAR greater austerity than today, not that I believe there is ‘austerity’ at all today.

    We have been treated appallingly, and all women who were given their retirement age as 60, contracted IN to that, for you cannot be ‘contracted OUT’, to use govt term, without being first contracted IN….should have had this HONOURED back in 1995 and MUST still have that honoured now.

    Govt could (and should) have brought the age of men down, either to 60, to meet ours, or to 62.5 for all, still with transition (gentle and achievable) for women. This would have helped men hugely, of course, alongside freeing up many jobs for young people, to allow them to start planning for their lives too.

    Politicians are there to work for us, to care for us. £BILLIONS and £BILLIONS of our money is spent on insane projects, wasted, thrown away, by insane people who have no concept of what it’s like to struggle and who are, in my view, nearly all utterly disassociated and uncaring of anyone but themselves. They feather their own nests, get big pensions, big salaris, big expenses, whilst they happily let the people struggle, and knowingly now watch many 1950s women spiralling downwards into deep depression, debt and suicidal thoughts, for we have NO LIFE, just an ‘existance’ and even that is a day to day struggle of mammoth proportions…

    Add to this the feeling of being sorely abused by our own country, after paying over 40 YEARS of N.I. for many of us, of being always told we’d retire at 60, and well, the emotions are red raw and the tears are never ending, the rage, consuming.

    They’ve taken around £40,000 from each of us, our savings, our best years of our retirement, now spent in deep anxiety, our bus passes, our pension credit, our help with heating, forcing many to live on £10.33 a day ESA/JSA, to rely on food banks, to be constantly harrassed by Job Centres/ESA requirements, to be ‘assessed’, like slaves…

    They’ve taken our dignity, our pride and our hope, but they will NEVER take our souls, nor the FIRE in our bellies which is driving so many of us on, keeping us alive, keeping us DETERMINED to get our stolen pensions back!

    EVERY DAY the money for OUR pensions rolls in to The Treasury, who are busy siphoning it all off whilst screaming “THERE’S NO MONEY!”

    I can barely sit down at times, so angry am I at this CRIMINAL behaviour, all done without a single drop of thought or respect being shown towards us…and, it seems to me, with a lot of Misogynistic Revenge for the Feminism of the 60s and 70s…because no man who CARED for women would EVER see them flung into Destitution….

    It’s now been discovered that Osborne said he’d not bring in any of these changes until the second part of this century. This ties in with what some Eastern EU countries are doing too, yet look at what he did!

    These people have NO compassion for us, no interest at all. They lose NO sleep over us and don’t care if we live or die….And as for the Pensions/Financial Industry themselves, well, don’t even get me started on the shameful bullying they’re guilty of towards us…They blame US for this, calling us ‘GRASPIs’ , doing ALL they can to turn the young against us, as do govt too….

    We’ve enough to cope with, just trying to stay alive, for many of us are becoming very ill now, so we don’t need ANY of this, on top of all else, but these sick, narcissistic, uncaring bullies continue on….shaming themselves in the eyes of many, yet not able to see what they’re doing to us, nor caring one iota. Some of them are Radical Feminists too, who have NO care for their ‘sisters’ as they call us, never have had either, for it’s only their own agenda that matters and the rest of us can go to hell.

    Sorry, rambling again, very emotional…..very upset.

    Thank you again for speaking to Ken and for your blog.

    Much love
    Lizzie

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    • 21st August 2016 at 11:45 am
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      Lizzie – well done on your comments, you have the ability to tell our story with the right mixture of facts and passion. I have heard you speak on the radio and, if Ken does agree to produce a documentary on the plight of the 1950s women, you will agree to feature in it.

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  • 21st August 2016 at 11:57 am
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    So true Lizzie I agree with everything you say. I’m the same. Born Sept 1954 and will get my Pension 6/9/2020 just 2 weeks before I’m 66. I am still working, in pain with ailments and will have to continue till age 66. I’m struggling financially, in debt and think I will have to sell my home. I have a new Grandchild who I can only see on my days off when I should be helping with childcare and support for my daughter. I’m so angry and can’t sleep at night as feel so cheated and let down. We need this nightmare to end. A distressed
    Waspi lady xx

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  • 22nd August 2016 at 11:32 am
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    As always Lizzie Cornish brings a tear to the eye. We read on a daily basis of funds able to be found for white elephant projects and the like and yet this government can’t find it in themselves to allow 50’s women a relatively ‘comfortable’ and worry free retirement. we are spending billions on benefits for people who haven’t contributed a single penny to the coffers yet as soon as the words ‘human rights’ are shouted from the rooftops the powers that be roll over. Do we not have a human right to take things a bit easier in our later lives, after all, at least we’ve paid for our pensions! Due to a chronic illness I have a life expectancy of 70, so if I’m lucky 4 years of pension. There are people a lot worse off than me I do appreciate that but I don’t know if I can keep working for another 4 years and I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO!!!!

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  • 22nd August 2016 at 4:09 pm
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    I agree Lizzie
    I am off work sick and a lot of the stress and anxiety I am suffering is because of the way the government has treated us 50’s women. Can’t get pension till 66 when I was promised 60. Dreadful waste of space all governments who have stolen our money for themselves and their cronies. Dreadful abuse of women who have always been unfairly treated in the workplace. I have done my fair share of caring and working. Now should be my time.

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  • 24th August 2016 at 9:36 am
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    I found this phone number on what appears to be Ken’s website 020 77340168

    Email niamh@sixteenfilms.co.uk

    Address is given as
    Sixteen films
    2nd , 187 Wardour St
    London
    W1F 8ZB

    My email is walshsunset@ntlworld.com

    I will be back 12th Sept . Keep me in the loop

    Cheers
    Karen

    Reply

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