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Living Below The Line – A First Hand Account.

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the Live Below The Line campaign – which aims to challenge the way we think about poverty. The initiative asks people to live on just £1 a day, for 5 days. Why £1? The international Extreme Poverty Line was defined by the World Bank as $1.25 US dollars a day, in 2005. If you live on less than that every day, you’re recognised internationally as living in extreme poverty. People have to do this every day, in real life – it’s hard, but it’s not impossible. The charity are trying to educate us to see just how hard it is and raise money for worthy causes while they do it.

Lorna Harris took on the challenge and lived below the Line for five days. Here, she tells us all about it.

Living Below the Line – approach with caution!

There I was, being all smug. ‘Yeah, I am doing Live Below the Line, it’s a quid a day for all my food, for five days’ and on I went  ‘It’s for poverty charities, do you know, so many people have to live on this amount, here and overseas, the line, the poverty line, I’m living below it for a week, the first week of May’ and on, ‘Did I tell you, I am doing Live Below the Line, for charity. Yeah, I am going to embrace being frugal, it’s a quid a day for 5 days and’…

Yeah, so as you can see by the above, I wasn’t exactly being silent about the challenge I had decided to undertake. As someone who can quite easily take out £50 before work and have nothing to show for it by lunchtime, I figured it would be slightly hard, but my goodness, I really had NO idea how hard.

Live Below The Line typical shop

Monday.

So, the day had arrived, and I was almost a little excited. My sponsorship had been increasing at a steady pace. I had planned some of my meals and had the couple of quid to spare. I was ready to Live Below the Line. How hard could it be?

Breakfast – Porridge with water, hot water and lemon.

Lunch – quinoa and frozen vegetables. No salt

Dinner – Beans on toast.

Mood – worried.

In theory, I was ready for Monday. But by 11am, I was feeling a bit weird, and I realised this was because I hadn’t had my coffee. I’m a girl that has a latte on the way to the office, and another coffee whilst writing up the morning news, then another one before I check my emails. No COFFEE was going to be the hardest part.

A few hours in, all I could smell in the office was toast and coffee. By lunch I was feeling a bit pukey. I sat at my desk and ate my quinoa. It was disgusting, and I realised this is because I didn’t have any salt, another thing I was fast realising that I was addicted to.

Suddenly the loud-mouthed girl of the week before wasn’t feeling quite so smug.

Tuesday

Tuesday passed without much drama, although I did dream about Jam. Which was weird, because I don’t even use jam, but all I wanted was jam. I suddenly realised my body was craving sugar. Another thing it seems this girl is addicted to… I can see a theme emerging here.

Breakfast – Porridge with water

Lunch – Ryvita, soup, red cabbage (I bought a cheap red cabbage and was delighted at this news!)

Dinner – Pasta, tinned tomatoes, frozen veg. a glass of cheap squash.

Mood – delirious

Wednesday

By Wednesday I was really struggling but also feeling a bit stoned. I was on deadline and without my coffee, croissant and a nice lunch to look forward to it made it pretty bleak.

Despite spending the morning looking at the website for Action for Hunger, the charity I was raising money for, simply to remind me of why I was doing this,  I cracked. I cracked and had a coffee. I calculated what that cup of instant coffee would have cost me out of the jar, and despite mere pence I cursed myself because I had promised myself a cheap banana that evening. No money for it now..

Sponsorship is over £200 now though, 40 weeks of Living Below the Line. Now THAT makes me think, I’m half way through, I have to carry on.

Breakfast – porridge

Lunch – Buckwheat, beetroots, illegal coffee.

Dinner – scrambled eggs and baked beans on toast .

Drinks – water

Mood – Hungry.

Thursday

I am starting to get excited. It’s nearly over. Just two days to go. I have been reading the Live Below the line Facebook page. Some people have given up ‘It’s IMPOSSIBLE’ says one. ‘I feel like I am insulting people who are really poor’ says another. Yeah, nice spin, I think, sipping my 20p miso, nice spin. Smug girl is back.

Breakfast – porridge, one ryvita (I actually put the porridge on the ryvita, what have I become!)

Lunch – miso and rice (I enjoyed this, maybe my taste buds are changing?)

Dinner – PRAISE THE LORD. I found an 80p reduced chicken korma in Tesco, and a scone for 20p. I basically have 1.20 left, so I blew the budget.

You have never seen a sugar rush, or a sugar crash, quite like it.

Mood – off my tits on sugar.

Friday

It’s Friday! The last day of Live Below the Line. Sponsorship is £245 so far, I can’t believe it, and it’s the LAST day. Some people are so supportive, others waft birthday cake under my nose. I shall remember this, I think, planning a murder spree once I have the energy.

Breakfast – Ryvita, 8p yogurt, hot water

Lunch – pasta and tinned tomatoes with sprinkled leftover miso on top

Dinner – chickpeas and rice, with more miso.

I go to Zumba and I come back and I’m starving. I clock watch till midnight, knowing full well I am going to break LBTL when the clock strikes twelve. I am dizzy with hunger…

MIDNIGHT! 

I did it! I celebrate with a gin and some posh cheese on a cracker, but I work out what that would cost.. The big breakfast I plan, I work that out, and the going out with my friends, I work that out. £90 would go the day Live Below the Line ends. £90.

I think about the families who really have to do this, here in the UK and overseas. The parents who have to compromise themselves to be able to feed their children. I think about it as I set up my monthly direct debit to Action for Hunger. I think about the lattes I haven’t bought, what I have saved and I feel grateful that I don’t have to live this way.

What have I learned from the experience? Truthfully, probably not much. But it has made me more aware of what others go through, it was so so hard, and one thing is for sure, I will be back for more next year, Living Below the Line, because face it, we are lucky we can choose to do it.  Others are not so fortunate.

My latte doesn’t taste as great as I thought it would, as I sit and type this but I am still happy the week is done! I am so grateful to all my wonderful sponsors, and I promise never to be so smug again!

Mood – Glad it’s over, grateful, and definitely going to have a take away tonight.

Editors Note: We at This Little Lady are SO very proud of Lorna for completing the challenge – we saw how hard it was! It’s not too late to help the cause and donate a little money – seriously, even a £1 makes a difference. To support Lornas efforts and help people who need it most, her Live Below The Line page is here. Thanks so much x

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    sarah mckenzie
    May 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Lorna is a legend ! I know her and admire her!xxxx

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