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Methodists chain themselves to church in protest against benefit sanctions

A group of Methodists have chained themselves to a local church in protest against the UK government's benefit sanctions.

The protest at Blaydon Methodist Church in Gateshead will last from 7am to 1pm today and involve local residents, clergy and those who have experienced benefit sanctions. 

The group has handcuffed themselves to railings as a symbol of the binding restrictions they say the current benefits system places on people.

The instigator of the protest and minister of the church Deacon Tracey Hume has called benefit sanctions "immoral".

Speaking to Premier the minister explained more people had been forced to use the church's foodbank because of benefit sanctions. 

"I'm increasingly frustrated by the number of clients we're having through the foodbank who are having to attend because of benefit sanctions, usually for very minor reasons such as being 5 minutes late for a job centre appointment".

"For many people, receiving a benefit sanction means they simply cannot feed themselves or their children."

"The system of sanctions is simply immoral - issuing penalties harsher than even the Magistrates give out for breaking the law."

Revd Stephen Lindridge, Chair of the Newcastle upon Tyne Methodist District said, "It is not acceptable that people should be sanctioned for sometimes very simple reasons….In 2016 this should not be happening."

The protest was timed to coincide with the national release of the film I, Daniel Blake. The film is based on the true story of Daniel Blake who faced issues of modern poverty and benefit sanctions in Newcastle.

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