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Can you remember the last thing you spent £1 on? A bottle of water perhaps? A scratch- card? How about a days worth of food? The latter may sound far fetched, but for 1.2 billion people around the world, it’s just reality.
Each year, Global Citizen run a challenge called Live Below The Line, for which they invite the public to live below the poverty line for 5 days, spending just £1 a day on all food and drink. By taking on the task, you not only raise awareness about this global issue, but you also get the chance to fundraise for some of the world leading anti-poverty organisations. You get the chance to make a real difference to the lives of millions.
On a whim, I decided to take part. I set up an online page, chose the charity Action For Hunger UK, and headed to the supermarket with a £5 note in my pocket. Scouring for the healthiest food items I could afford, I left with rice, sweet potatoes, rolled oats, a can of kidney beans, passata and some frozen vegetables. I had 15p left for a bit of salt and pepper, but apart from that I would be living on basic carbohydrates for the duration of the challenge.
Breakfast was plain oats and water. Aside from having the texture of wallpaper paste, it was doable. The real issue came with foregoing the countless cups of tea and coffee I drink each day. By the third day I was having major caffeine withdrawal, and I’m not joking when I say I resembled an extra from The Walking Dead.
Hunger wasn’t much of an issue, luckily I had enough rice to feed a small army. My tastebuds weren’t thanking me however, and by the fourth day I ditched the rice altogether and stuck to sweet potatoes, passata and a handful of veg for my meals. I have a huge sweet tooth, but I try and eat well too, so I normally eat a lot of fresh fruit throughout the day. Fruit wasn’t in my budget however, so my blood sugar level dropped and I ended up in bed by 8pm each night. Even Netflix marathons wore me out.
I tried to persevere however, using the donations and support from others as well as the promise of a good meal at the end of the challenge to keep me going. I’m not going to lie, it was a difficult week. However, I raised £160 and learnt to truly appreciate the situation I’m grateful to be in. It was an eye opening experience, and now I think twice before I spend £3 on a coffee.
Five days is nothing in the grand scheme of things, so pretend you’re a contestant on ‘I’m A Celebrity’ and change some lives while you’re at it. If you fancy giving it a go then you can join LUSU Gives as they take on the challenge. Check out their Facebook page for details, or sign up on livebelowtheline.com. Your actions can make a real difference.