The play "Food Bank As It Is," depicts stories of food poverty and threats of eviction. Written by Tara Osman, a food bank manager, the play brings to life the misery of hunger, which government data show is on the rise. It is a play based on real-life events that shows parents skipping meals to feed their children.
One character in "Food Bank As It Is," is based on Mark O'Connor, a one-time mental health worker for the National Health Service. He suffered depression, lost his job and had no money to eat. "By the time I used a food bank, it had been five days that I'd been without food," O'Connor told the Foundation. "It's embarrassing, and you just feel like worthless. I live in London. I live in England," he added. "One of the wealthiest countries on the planet, and I'm having to beg for food."
The number of people using Britain's food banks, which provide emergency supplies, has risen amid government austerity cuts, stagnant wages and increasing living costs. The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of food banks, provided almost 1.2 million three-day food supplies in the year up to March, up by more than 70,000 from the previous 12 months. Trussell Trust data show referrals for people to receive emergency food have risen in areas where a new system overhauling benefits, universal credit, has been introduced.
The number of people going without food in Britain has been rising since 2010, said Rachel Loopstra, a nutrition lecturer at London's King's College.
"People with disabilities, lone-parent households and families with three or more children are particularly vulnerable to needing to use food banks," she explained. Suffering from hunger, people are less able to manage chronic diseases, children perform poorly in school and mental health declines, she said.