Live Below the Line


Tomorrow is the official start to the 2013 Live Below the Line challenge – “an innovative awareness and fundraising campaign that’s making a huge difference in the fight against extreme poverty.” Live Below the Line challenges individuals to live off of £1 per day for food for 5 days, while raising funds to help the 1.4 BILLION people currently living in extreme poverty.

Think about that – 1.4 billion people are living off £1 a day or less. Then think about what it would be like for you to try and live off of £1 a day. And the challenge is just for food – many of the people living in poverty who have the equivalent of £1 or less per day have to use that to also cover housing, education, clothing, entertainment, and everything else in their lives. For those reading this who live in the UK, 1.4 billion people  is 20 times the population of the UK.

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. This figure is calculated using Purchasing Power Parity – which works out how much you would have to live on each day if you were living in extreme poverty in the United States, so it doesn’t matter that food may cost less in developing countries. Converting this to the 2005 equivalent for the UK and adjusting for inflation, living below the Extreme Poverty Line today would be the equivalent of us living on £1 a day.

Raising or Donating Money

If you’d like to take part in the challenge, there are many organisations you can raise money for, who will directly help those in need. For a list of these organisations and information on how you can take part, click here. If you’d rather donate than take the challenge, you can do that too, by clicking here.

Could you do it?

I was approached by Oxfam to take the challenge and I’m embarrassed to say that I declined this year. I said I’d do it next year. Why did I decline? For personal and selfish reasons – it’s not a good week for me. That’s selfish because the people who are living below the poverty line every day of their lives don’t have a choice. I’ve thought about the challenge non-stop. I’ve tried to think what I would buy and eat over 5 days which would fit into my diet and lifestyle. I read blogs of other peoples’ accounts, and looked at what they bought and ate. And truthfully, the challenge scares me. I like to think I could do it, but again, selfishly, I know I’d hate it. But that’s the point, isn’t it? To see how difficult it would be – for just five days – and make you think about the people who are suffering every day. And to become part of the solution. It’s a thought provoking challenge, and I commend everyone across the globe who is taking part. I feel guilty and ashamed that I’ve chosen not to, but I will donate, and I will seriously consider doing it next year. It’s not about me. It’s about finding a solution. Could you do it?

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