Sunday, 6 May 2012

Live Below the Line

[Published in Forge Press, the University of Sheffield's student newspaper - 05/05/12]

As students we’re pretty used to living on a tight budget but could you survive off £1 per day for food? That would certainly mean kissing goodbye to John’s Van and the trusty post-night out greasy takeaway. This tiny amount is sadly the reality for 1.4billion people across the world, trapped in the poverty cycle. Most are forced to stretch this amount beyond food and support their families.

Live Below the Line is a campaign aiming to raise the awareness poverty across the world. Those taking up the challenge have a £5 budget to extend over a period of five days, which this includes all food, drinks and tipples such as cigarettes and booze. £1 per day is the amount calculated by the World Bank as ‘extreme poverty’ and all the proceeds will go to charities such as Christian Aid, the Salvation Army and UNICEF to help those who face this challenge every single day of their lives. Hamza Jahanzeb, a student from Lancashire, is taking part in this year’s campaign: “I was inspired to take part after having seen extreme poverty in African countries shown on BBC's ‘Children in Need’. I was also inspired as UNICEF is a charity which has always amazed me with its amazing efforts helping to end global poverty.” UNICEF is just one of the many charities involved in this campaign. However, the aim of all the charities involved is to reach people in some of the toughest parts of the world and help to improve their standards of living, something that can only be done with our support. ‘Live Below the Line’ is about more than raising money for charity, it allows the participants to empathise with those who have to live with this every single day by gaining an insight into their day-to-day lives.

Student purses are already limited to a shoestring so the Live Below the Line campaign is an ideal challenge. This campaign has forced me to rethink my own expenditure on food; takeaway pizzas and Interval lunches are definitely my Achilles’ heel. A considerable amount of food also goes to waste, which is shocking when taking into account those across the world who barely have enough to survive on. While £1 is very extreme it may inspire you to eat more creatively on the cheap and waste less food.

When considering the method to this challenge, cheap foods like instant noodles instantly pop into my mind but you couldn’t live off foods like this every day without feeling somewhat rather ill -though I’m sure some students would stridently disagree!-. A quick wander round Tesco and you’ll discover the various delights and horrors of value foods. The idea of a concoction of 11p instant noodles, 6p custard power, 8p mushy peas and 13p creamed rice pudding has culinary disaster written all over it. However, realistically this task is achievable by keeping a close eye on supermarket deals and getting a bit creative with the very basics such as rice and vegetables. On such a tight budget, booze falls out of the equation unless you somehow budget for it, which would be mildly impressive on a £5 budget but very ill advised!

Students are in the prime position to give ‘Live Below the Line’ a go and the savviest of students may even discover new ways of slashing their existing food budget. Join celebrities such as Bonnie Wright in taking up the challenge between 7th and 11th of May and help do your part to towards relieving extreme poverty. 

Alice Burrow

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