'Deleted': Cricklewood short film shows 'lack of humanity' in benefits system
PUBLISHED: 11:18 06 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:05 07 June 2019
A Cricklewood film-maker has made a documentary showing the final hours before another Cricklewood man, Ahmed Hussain Siddiqi, lost his home.
Ahmed was forced onto the streets after struggles with the benefits system meant he couldn't pay his rent.
Tragically, Ahmed is thought to have died on May 11, just as Stephan Pierre Mitchell was showing documentary short Deleted at a film festival in Sunderland.
Stephan, a 25 year old graduate of the Central School of Speech and Drama, told the Kilburn Times about Mr Siddiqi and his film.
He said: "He was my neighbour, living near me in Cricklewood. I came across him and his story really impacted upon me.
"The film focuses on the lack of humanity in the system."
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Stephan says Ahmed told him he'd lost out on much-needed cash because he couldn't afford to be on hold to an operator for hours using his pay-as-you-go mobile.
He added: "It's all machines. It's like I, Daniel Blake - if you can't work the system you get stuck."
Before his death last month, Stephan said he had grown increasingly concerned for his former neighbours.
"I had been trying to get a hold of him on his phone for a while, to see how he was," he said. "I just couldn't believe it that he had died.
"When people see the film what they always say is how meticulous he looked. He was always showering at a casino even when he was homeless - he always looked impeccable."
In addition to its showing in Sunderland and a premiere at the British Independent Film Festival in London on May 13, he hopes to show the film at a number of other festivals around the country over the summer.
A DWP spokesperson said: "While we have unfortunately not been given the details needed to investigate this case fully, our records show Mr Siddiqi did not receive any sanction or suspension of benefits."
They added that they offer "a range of specialised support to people struggling with homelessness and housing issues" and said: "As part of the Rough Sleeping Strategy we have committed to establishing a single point of contact for homelessness issues in every job centre."