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Living Below the Line - Kates Story

Posted by Kate Anderson Fundraising Support Assistant for Oxfam Cymru - Intern

22nd Apr 2013

Kate Anderson

This week, Kate Anderson, a student at Cardiff University, has taken on quite a challenge to raise money for Oxfam.  Here is her story in her own words.

"This week I am been 'living below the line.' From Monday to Friday, I am spending no more than £5 on all my food and drink combined.  I am joining the 20,000 people in over three continents who will taking part in the Live Below the Line challenge this year. In getting sponsored to voluntarily experience the constraints of those who don't have a choice, I will raise money that will be donated to facilitate Oxfam's life-changing work.

It's internationally recognised that if you live on less than $1.25 a day, you are living in extreme poverty. Through Live Below the Line you gain a small insight into the realities of life for 1.4 billion people worldwide who are living in extreme poverty. In truth that tiny amount of money has to pay for everything; health, housing, food, education, transport. It really is incredibly hard to imagine. So, my challenge really is just a small glimpse into to the tough choices you have to make when you have so little.

We also know that food poverty is a growing problem in the UK, with more and more people having to turn to food banks for help and support. Living Below the Line is also waking me up to how difficult it is for a growing number of people in my own community to make ends meet on a daily basis. 

As someone who counts down the days until my student loan comes in, and who regularly manages the food budget at the homeless shelter where I volunteer, I thought that I was pretty frugal with my food budget. Surely if I just cut out meat, cheese and fruit I wouldn't have to make too many changes to my diet? Shortly after arriving in the supermarket, the reality of what you can actually buy for £5 hit home. I normally go for the cheapest, own-branded food, but even that proved to be difficult in my £5 budget. I went around each aisle over three times, desperately trying to find food that would fit into my budget. Quickly, I realised I was going to have to make some big choices. I decided my tea addiction was going to have to be put on hold, that I'd have to change my buying habits and go to the local market for my fruit and veg, and that I had to think about the nutritional value of everything in my basket. Luckily my friend Katie was doing the challenge too, so we bought a few items that could be easily split between the two of us, like eggs, fish and porridge. At the market I managed to buy 4 fair-trade bananas for 20p. It's a minor miracle that with a budget this small I can still get some fair-trade food!

I've only been doing the challenge for 3 days and it's already made me realise just how little choice 1.4 billion people do not have of eating a balanced diet, and how hard it is to buy healthy food cheaply. It's also made me very hungry."

Blog post written by Kate Anderson

Fundraising Support Assistant for Oxfam Cymru - Intern

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