Myself and my regional team are joining thousands of people across the world by taking part in the Live Below the Line Challenge. For 5 days, we will be living on £1 a day for food and drink, with the aim of raising funds for Oxfam, to help improve the lives of the world's poorest, at home and abroad. Widespread poverty happens across the world, but also right on our doorstep. Poverty in the UK is very real and deeply painful, and we think it's vital to help eradicate it.
We'll be joined on our challenge by 1.2 billion people across the world that live below the extreme poverty threshold of just £1 per day, every day, not through choice, but through necessity. As well as food, their £1 has to cover accommodation, clothes, medicine, education - everything. Our five day participation will provided barely even a snapshot of their reality.
A few of the girls on the organisational team started their Below the Line challenge yesterday, with myself and the marketing department joining them at midnight tonight. I feel a bit like I'm cheating, having the benefit of their wisdom re shopping lists, having started a day ahead of us. Our fundraising manager was very serious when she said: "you gotta have some cheap noodles Lee, whatever, you do, *do not* forget your cheap noodles. You'll need them." *pointed look to reinforce the brevity of what she was telling me*
I've just been to spend my ten pounds (I have a buddy doing this alongside me) and I have to say, it was hard shopping so consciously - I'm one of those 'buy random bits and we'll make something of it later' types and also usually have the added bonus of store cupboard basics to fashion a meal out of my purchases. Being aware that this was our entire spend for the week, that it had to make decent meals and we couldn't pop out for extras felt really weighty, but I think we've done not bad. I think having someone to bulk buy with gives me an advantage as it gives us variety. Had I only had five pounds and shopping myself, I don't think I'd have had so much choice.
So, my food and drinks for the week, left me a massive 16p in credit! I might measure out 16p worth of salt because I forgot to get stock cubes - epic fail! I don't think quantity of food is going to be an issue but I am a bit concerned about the quality. My normal diet is lots of protein and tons of veggies but with so little to spend, grains were definitely the way to go to fill up. And I forgot to get ANY veg whatsoever - I don't know how I managed that! My solitary grapefruit looks so sad sitting on its own.
I also pondered the ethical issues, even before I set foot in the supermarket, in fact, it's been on my mind of an evening as I go to bed since I signed up. Our 5 day challenge is very different to people living below the line as part of their daily life. As a mum of two little boys, I'm pretty sure that if I was raising children or even just trying to maintain a full tummy and a stay healthy myself on such a limited budget, much as it saddens me to say it, ethical farming and trade standards wouldn't necessarily be my priority.
Our shop contained lots of discounted groceries! We got to the shops at the right time for reductions, which I'm aware is a strategy that a lot of families living in poverty use to stretch their budgets. You'd have thought I'd won the lottery when I managed to bag a decent quality loaf, tea cakes and muffins I could freeze and use as I needed through the week for 60p in total. That's breakfasts and lunches sorted. Dinners are going to be a bit of a mish mash but I reckon we'll have more than enough to eat, just not necessarily the tastiest or most balanced of diets.
Please make it worth our while and help Oxfam to change the lives of the 1.2 billion people across the world currently living Live Below the Line by donating here:
For more information on Living Below the line, visit livebelowtheline.com/uk/partner/oxfam
For more information on Oxjam, visit oxfam.org.uk/oxjam