Living below the line

For five days this week I am taking up a challenge from the Global Poverty Project to Live Below the Line.

The campaign encourages people to spend five days feeding themselves on £1 a day – the UK equivalent of the extreme poverty line.

To start the week I made a trip to the supermarket with my £5 budget.  With so little money it was a real challenge to buy enough food to last the week.  My focus was on basic foods like porridge oats and noodles that could provide multiple meals throughout the week.

In addition I also bought some veg although the relatively high cost of these items meant I ended up relying predominantly on beans and pasta sauces.

Four days into the challenge I know I’ll make it through to the end, but I wouldn’t pretend I’ve managed to achieve a balanced, healthy and varied diet on my limited budget.  I reverted to meals that I lived on when I was a student and when I was unemployed.   It required quite a bit of planning given my lifestyle and attending evening meetings.

The Live Below the Line campaign is designed to give a small glimpse into the lives of the 1.4 billion people world-wide who have to make ends meet on extremely limited budgets.  Their challenge is not only have to consider the cost of food but also other vital living costs like housing and utilities.

In our discussion at the Cross Party Group on International Development with representatives from the campaign I thought getting school students involved would be a particularly good reality check and bring home the need for affordable, healthy food.

The campaign is a fantastic way to engage people in the movement to end global poverty and is a real eye-opener to the difficulties that people are facing on a daily basis.

I’m not taking part in the challenge primarily to raise money – but have decided to make a donation to VSO UK to help them continue their excellent work with volunteers.   I’ve seen for myself the difference that VSO volunteers can make working to support disadvantaged communities from my time in Khagrachari in Bangladesh last year.