For 5 days I was one of the 1,000s of people (worldwide) that took part in “Live Below the Line” where I could only eat and drink within a £1 (£1.50) budget each day. Why would I do such a thing I hear you ask?! Well, I have 1.4 Billions reasons to after all.

How do we measure poverty? How can we say that these people live in extreme poverty while those live in mild poverty? The internationally recognised measure for this is currently those who live on less than a £1 per day. This £1 not only includes food and drink, but everything else we spend our money on, so shelter, clothes, medication, transport etc. A lot of my friends mentioned that £1 in a developing country could go farther than in the UK, yes this is true, but £1 anywhere is not enough to live. The key word used is ‘live’, which in some parts of the world actually implies survival. 

What is the point in me, a westerner, living on £1 a day, what does it actually prove? This is a question I asked myself when considering the challenge and to be honest I didn’t have an answer till day 5. I hope that me doing this helps raise awareness of the 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty and to remind people that this is not a choice but a reality. Well, I hope I have achieved this. 

It is not impossible to live on £1 a day, but it is very difficult. There was no room for milk, no room for fruit and no room for meat. I did this challenge with a wonderful, caring and creative friend who inspired me to understand the importance of what we were doing. With her creativity and experience living in a developing country we were able to combine our culinary skills to create 4 pretty tasty dishes to last us the week and they did last and we completed the challenge, and no we did not die. 

I must admit however that it was not easy. Day 1 and 2 involved me struggling against the pressure of no caffeine, until I finally realised that tea would cost 0.01p and therefore allowed myself 1p worth for the whole week. Apart from this struggle with my caffeine addiction I was able to reduce my intake of food, which some of you know is pretty big for such a little person. 

What got me through? Remembering all those people for which £1 is a reality, not just a life experience for 5 days. Day 3 I was travelling to university when I remembered the film “In Search of Ghandi” where the image of the elderly man reduced to tears when he explained that all he wanted was to be able to provide his family with 2 meals a day. This is the image that got me through because he is someone just like us, but so different in so many ways. 

I live in the UK and I am so grateful for this privilege, people say what does politics do for me? Well it is politics that decides how much money we get and provides us with a place to live if it all goes terribly wrong and it is our health care system that will fix us when we break.

My final thought is something that came up on twitter about how ethical it is for super markets to sell products, like flour for 9p. This is something that caught my attention because I do wonder how supermarkets can afford such low prices for products that incur such large production costs. This is something I will have to get back to you on.

Thank you to my wonderful, caring and creative friend for without her I would not have done this. Also thank you to all those that sponsored me, the donations will go to the Global Poverty Project, and supported me.

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