Deaths by Welfare Podcast

People’s deaths linked to the UK welfare system often aren’t named as deaths from state violence. Yet the State is the perpetrator – even as it kills people at a distance, through bureaucracy, slowly.  Different forms of state violence also connect in so many people’s lives – the violence of the mental health system, the criminal legal system and policing, welfare, social services, immigration – all tangled together in a knot. 

In this episode we bring together families bereaved by state violence – specifically, the welfare system, mental health system, and policing. This episode is a conversation which opens space for families to talk about campaigning and grief, solidarity and care, different journeys of healing, and justice both within and beyond the State. 

Our hope is that this is just one conversation of many that provide a connecting thread for cross-movement solidarity against state violence – a tapestry that grows and solidifies our ecosystems of resistance. The episode is co-hosted by Imogen Day who lost her sister Philippa in 2019 after 28 mistakes were made by the DWP and their outsourced partner Capita. We speak with Joy Dove, whose daughter Jodey took her own life in 2017 after fighting for weeks with the DWP’s decision to stop her benefits; Ajibola Lewis, whose son Seni died in 2010 after being restrained by up to 11 policemen whilst he was seeking help as a voluntary patient at the Bethlem Royal Hospital, Croydon; Anna Susianta, whose 17 year old son, Komang Jack Susianta, was killed by police in 2015 whilst suffering a mental health crisis; and Alison Burton, the daughter in law of Errol Graham, who died from starvation after having his benefits cut off).

Episode resources:

Video with BSL interpretation and live captions:

The Deaths by Welfare Podcast is part of our wider investigation into deaths linked to welfare reform and the violence of state austerity. The knowledge and leadership of disabled people fighting fatal reforms is central to this work, and this podcast aims to bring some of these voices together to understand how policies designed in the name of ‘welfare’ can create the conditions for people’s deaths.


Intro music and sound design by Rosemary Moss, with audio testimonies from Vince Laws, and the ‘Right to Record’ action group, collected by Hannah Kemp-Welch.

BSL interpretation by Sumayya Si-Tayeb.

Produced by Healing Justice Ldn and edited by Hannah Kemp-Welch.