Britain Isn’t Eating.

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A few weeks ago, I was asked to collaborate on a film project with the Guardian, Royal Court theatre, playwright Laura Wade (who wrote ‘Posh’, recently released as the film ‘The Riot Club’, about the notorious Bullingdon Club) and director Carrie Cracknell, on a microplay film project based around current affairs. I was asked to be part of the food film, and this is what we did:

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“A politician learns an uncomfortable truth about food-bank Britain. Katherine Parkinson stars in a microplay written by Laura Wade and directed by Carrie Cracknell, after conversations with social affairs writer Amelia Gentleman and food blogger Jack Monroe. Britain Isn’t Eating is the first in a series of plays made in collaboration between Guardian journalists and Royal Court theatre-makers.” – The Guardian, 17 Nov 2014.

To watch the video, click here: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/video/2014/nov/17/britain-isnt-eating-microplay-guardian-royal-court-video#comments

And, for the record and the harpers and the snipers, no, I wasn’t paid for this. I did it because I thought it was really bloody important. And it makes me kind of sad, how many times I’ve had to say that today.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

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45 Comments »

  1. Well done, it’s a clever, interesting and moving piece. I fail to understand people who think you ought not to be paid … I am sorry to learn that you weren’t paid.
    Well done on your writing, campaigning and recipe writing, which I enjoy – and I have made some of your recipes.
    Best wishes
    Norma

    • Actually I agree too why should she not be paid for work. Crazy the people are going mad now days. Better times are ahead I hope!

  2. Jack – you’re right, it *is* really bloody important!! I think it should be required watching for everyone, especially our MPs. I’d like to think it would make them see things the way they are for once, but sadly I doubt it. Good for you and for all involved in this!

  3. Hi Jack,

    I don’t think that you should have to justify yourself to anyone. Whether you are paid for something or not is no-ones bloody business!
    Was everyone who asked you this question today prepared to lay out their earnings for all to see?…I think not.
    Good on you Jack, this is a great thing to be involved in, and as some may say “Don’t let the *@?%& grind you down”

    Love Fiona

  4. This is great. I will be using it with my tutor group tomorrow to promote discussion. It may prove to be difficult as I know some families have had to use the local food bank at one time or another but I also know that some volunteer and donate. It needs to be discussed, understood and out in the open.

  5. Awwww bless….. What I find really interesting is the resistance from the establishment that any of this could really be happening…I get that it flies in the face of their rhetoric, and therefore threatens re-election etc, but the resistance is far more instinctive then that? Is it that when they see “ordinary” people, instead of the caricatures that are consistently bandied about, does that make them realise it can happen to them? Or does it bring them face to face with the cost of their morals and beliefs…the ones that allow them to continue in their lifestyle under the misguided belief that if only one worked hard, one could achieve whatever they desire….and therefore the likes of humanity who are poor, and using foodbanks are, by definition, lazy?? What if the truth came out? That one could work hard..harder then they know and yet stand still, unable to feed their family and with no secure roof over their head??? And that the situation is a spiral that becomes out of control plunging people into a bottomless bucket. A friend once said to me…” You have to be rich to be poor” no credit, or exorbitant credit; bank charges, direct debit charges, no direct debit charges, higher fuel costs for having a meter, public transport, buying food per day instead of a bulk shop, not having a telephone and having to find one to borrow, making calls re debts on a mobile; Internet provision and paying for a landline you may not use, running the car on empty all the time, kids that grow, school trips, uniform, other childrens birthday parties…I could go on and on and on.
    And those few people who do lie and cheat the benefit system??? Are they so different from our bankers? Question is….have they done the same damage?

  6. And by the way…all the negative comments you get…. Is their attempt to distract you and others from the real issue. Which means what you are doing is working. Every time you get a negative comment, you are being effective. Count ’em up hun, I think you will find that you are incredibly influential and very scary xxxxx

  7. Oh for goodness sake! Are you still getting grief for earning money? paid or not.. your business. Glad you get the opportunity to earn enough money for you and your family. isn’t it what we all aspire to? I do hope so.
    Gill

  8. I don’t understand the questions you are exposed to. If you had been compensated, it doesn’t change the message. I hate when I’m labeled a professional advocate because I work in nonprofit, like my empathy for a cause is invalid. Paid or not, and nothing wrong with either, thank you for drawing attention to the needs of other.

  9. Have the people who asked you if you were paid ever said “It’s not my job!” and walked away?

    I’d rise up and fight for you Jack, except that you’ve proven again and again that you don’t me to do it!

    Keep the power!

  10. There is a manner of responding to the type of individual who will insist upon foisting their unproductive views upon you. Ignore them & think about the impoverished, the ‘socially cleansed’,the starving, the suicidal, those tipped into mental illness, those who will die in understaffed prisons, those who will die or be injured on under policed streets and those who will freeze to death in their own homes this winter. Sounds melodramatic and that is what is so bizarre about this whole austerity mess. I really doesn’t sound like real life and yet it is for so many.

  11. There are all kinds of reasons why people carp at you – the natural carpers who just have to have a go at someone to make their day, those who are jealous, the ignorant who come upon your story without bothering to check up on the back-story, and of course, the “professionals” – those who have a vested interest in discrediting you. Then there are those of us who think you are doing a bloody good job – paid or not! And people who are newly come to your blog via stories on social media. Just keep on doing what you do so well, Jack, and ignore the negative crap.

    And re the video – jolly well done, keep getting the message out via quality platforms such as this, and don’t give up – there are thousands of us behind you!

  12. Jack, seriously STOP dignifying them with a response. If they expect you to be a breatharian, living on fresh air in order to fulfill some proscribed narrative of articulate poor person, then fuck them.

    Just get on with it and ignore it. Hard I know but it isn’t going to stop.

    And well done you. Good work 🙂

  13. Really great short film. It highlights how the views of those who ‘have’ are about those who haven’t got enough resources to heat or eat.

    It’s a shame in today’s society though, there are so many who say they are poor and their benefits are not enough when in reality they are not living on the breadline like so many who can’t get enough help and do rely on the kindness of others.

    I’d like to thank all the charitable people who donate to food banks, or give up their time to help the needy, or share a thought for their neighbours and don’t do it for the thanks.

    This film should be played on television – regularly (like the flaming adverts trying to prise us from our money) – so that everyone sees it.

    • Yes this film should be played on TV in prime time slots, ITV channel 4 or 5 go on we dare you! you’ve made money from the dark side of benefits the minority who do abuse them, how about showing the right side, the disabled unemployed sanctioned to make the figures look good, forced to live on hand outs. Show this short film xx

  14. Thank you Jack! You absolute inspiration! You, make me proud to be a socialist, you’re an antidote to the harpers and snipers. Keep rocking their status quo! Heartfelt Respect to you and Allegra I use both you wonderful women’s recipe resources to teach my students fab cooking on a budget. It’s been so exciting to witness your success. Congratulations. Cheers Treeza

  15. I think what you do is brilliant, I am always horrified that people have the cheek to be so bloody rude. Keep up the fabulous work that you do. You have definitely raised my awareness and understanding of food poverty in the UK. Thank you.

  16. thankyou, will any thing change, whilst you debate or prevaricate people starve to death or become so ill they commit a crime – then you take notice but make it worse.Perhaps I will just lie down on the sidewalk and make it easier for you to kick me to death.

  17. Bugger them Jack, you’re doing a grand job. Ignore the doubters, critics, haters, they have nothing better to do. You have integrity, compassion and common sense, and more respect that you could ever imagine.
    And, as for payment received, it is nobody else’s business but yours. You have worked hard, got yourself out of a truly awful situation, and tried to raise awareness to ensure that it never happens again.
    That is more than can be said for your critics, they are mean spirited individuals.

  18. I agree completely with Norma Spark up near the top. It’s a good piece and highlights an important issue, and I don’t see why people don’t think you deserve to be paid for your work. Earning a wage is not unethical! Thank you for your recipes. Your first cookbook has changed my life (not to sound too dramatic), and I look forward to the second one!

  19. Brilliant film ….. it just needed two hungry children to come in fresh from school asking for their share of the ‘Mackerel Gazpacho’ 😦

  20. I was shouting at my computer screen. ‘They’ve got no fuel! Bread! Some hope!’ A tin of soup and some sardines. That would have to do more than one meal.
    That moved me to tears. Thank you. Perhaps show it on prime time tv instead of those interminable Christmas adverts.

  21. Well done. We give to a food bank every week but notice that some usually generous people are not giving. They are baffled by the need for food banks in a wealthy place (I live near Tunbridge Wells), when there is a benefits system. It still needs explaining that when you’re on the breadline, all it takes is for one thing to go wrong and you’re in crisis. I have seen it happen to friends. Please keep explaining!

  22. This needs to be out there, they have no idea nor do they care. We need to stand and be counted. To make the change! The people need to take back charge of their own destiny Revoution May 2015. For gods sake throw these bastards out!!

  23. I don’t know why you shouldn’t get paid, anyway. It’s just weird the way people think about things and about other people. It’s very sad, as you say. And no doubt ongoing. People are ignorant and nasty, small minded creatures. Obvs, not everyone. Not me or the other decents on here. But way too many more than there ought to be.

  24. I blogged about “eat or heat” a few days ago. This film is brilliant, this is why my contributions to the food banks are all edible without heating, although I do include tea, coffee and sugar for the better days. Keep up the good work, if only you could persuade the people who throw food away every week to buy less for themselves and give the rest to food banks.

  25. Not watched yet (will watch after my Small Boy goes to bed) but just wanted to echo the others, why the hell shouldn’t you get paid? Your time has a value and it’s fine if you choose to do it for free (errrrm, obviously!), but if you had been paid…. what? Does that make it not true? Not valuable?

    I have faith in humanity but some days it shakes a lot 😦

  26. I find it unbelievable that anyone could begrudge you for sharing your knowledge and experience about food poverty and being renumerated as it the norm for any consultant! I found the film just chilling…

  27. What a beautifully constructed film. Katherine was perfect.

    It is a great shame that a country as wealthy as the UK has been reduced to this.

    The same thing is starting to happen here, in Australia: the belief that the poor are lazy uneducated scroungers who are just not trying hard enough

  28. Dear Jack, what you are doing is so important! As others have said, I think you should publicly ignore the snipers. I know it always hurts privately, but my daughter taught me to “not engage.” I think 2 things are happening: you, as a decent, loving person can’t really believe that these people are irredeemable, and maybe they aren’t, but you need to use your wonderful energy elsewhere, not in trying to help saddos see the light.; and, most people don’t really believe in “charity.”
    I’m a Yank, well-educated, always worked outside the home (2 kids), and had every expectation of the comfortable retirement years (I’m 69) my ex-husband is now enjoying. Many issues here that I won’t discuss, but I recently realized that I spent the last 15 years trying to “make a new life for myself” (with some help from the ex, actually) and not admitting that I was getting farther and farther up shit creek. For me, charity (government or private) was for the “poor people,” not me, and I tried to support such programs. This year, my adult daughter and I really did hit bottom (I hope it’s the bottom!), and signed up to receive food help once a month from a local church. It was so difficult for us to accept what these kind people were happy to share with us, and the quantity of good quality food astonished us. For a few days, we had difficulty even eating what we had gotten, thinking surely someone else deserved it more. We’ve been to the “cupboard” twice now, and it’s still difficult (last time, a very condescending “church lady” helped us), but we know that it’s hypocritical to think charity is for those “other people,” who maybe aren’t as smart as we are (I’m also a good cook, btw). I’ve never thought of myself as condescending to the poor, but I realize that attitude is deeply ingrained in all of us, including the poor, I suppose. I try to remind myself that all human life is valuable, and everyone “deserves” to eat well, but I’m still shocked at how difficult is is for me “to walk a mile in their shoes.” So keep up the good fight, clever girl! Kate in Oregon

  29. Jack, it’s been a year since I last commented on your blog, but I’m back to share a video with you about revolution and social change. Although the main subject appears to be about food, it’s actually about compassion and touches on politics, socialism, commercialism, relationships – including same sex relationships – and the way we treat people and raise children. It crams in a lot in under 10 minutes. The woman who made it has summed up all the things I wanted to say before, but in a much better way than I was ever able to. It’s powerful stuff if you give it a chance. I hope you find it useful:

  30. I have quietly followed your work Jack and I think you are wonderful. There are so many people out here who live a poor, malnourished existence and your work is vitally important to highlight the issues they face. This short film is great and I actually would like to see it played on TV to help try to counteract all of the shows that are showing those in receipt of benefits in a bad light. Being poor is soul destroying, it takes away all hope. No one should claim otherwise and those at the top of the social ladder should be ashamed of themselves when they comment on how the poor live, they wouldn’t survive a week. Poverty can happen to anyone.

  31. Is there a way to read the actual script? It would be great to see this wonderful production in the written word, and see how these microplays are formatted too.

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