The Live Below The Line Challenge

Live Below the Line 2016: Day 5 Diary

Live Below The Line
Brunch: my reward

Yesterday was the last of our five days – so as I write this, we are free! We celebrated this morning with an extremely delicious brunch at Boston Tea Party which I’ve been fantasizing about all week. I’m normally a slow eater so my dear husband is pretty tolerant by now, but this morning I ate so slowly, savouring every little bite, that even he was getting pretty bored! Rarely has anything ever tasted quite so good, after a week of almost no flavour.

Today, I want to address something that popped up on the #fdbloggersBTL thread – someone asking, perfectly reasonably, what this challenge actually does to help. It seems clear to those of us who are within it, but I’m willing to accept that it might not be quite so clear from the outside, so let me explain why exactly I think this challenge is a Good Thing and how it helps those in need.

First of all, it raises a lot of money. Like any “challenge”, the potential is there for plenty of sponsorship from everyone who reckons they couldn’t do it and feels sufficiently moved by your temporary hardship to dig into their pockets. According to the official website, over the past five years Live Below the Line has raised over $16 million worldwide (that’s about £11.3 million), which is not too shabby. That money goes to help a wide range of charities fighting poverty all over the world.

The money is hugely important, of course, but for me the way Live Below the Line changes people’s perspectives on poverty is just as crucial. It’s easy to think you know what it’s like to live this way. Most of us will have had to get by on a low income at some point in our lives, perhaps as students or at the beginning of our careers, and I’m no exception – so when I first did this challenge I thought I knew a few things about sticking to a budget. All I can say is, there’s living on a budget, and then there’s living below the line. Living the reality, even if only for five days, is a massive wake-up call.

Last year, when we did this challenge for the first time, I wrote that what I had experienced would keep me awake at night, and drive me to do more. This wasn’t an empty flourish. Since then, we’ve committed to donating to our local foodbank every single week. This year, I was determined to get some other food bloggers involved, and although there weren’t many of us, I know the experience has been really valuable for everyone who participated. Several new people have said already that they’d love to do it next year and I hope to make it a yearly challenge for me and my food blogging friends, not only to change their perspectives, but to give all their readers new insights too. As well as getting other bloggers involved, my husband’s also been spreading the word at his office, and this week has been collecting food for a donation to the Trussel Trust. The more understanding and compassion we can spread, the more all of us will do to help.

As I’ve already discussed in my previous diaries, I’m fully aware that doing this for just five days isn’t much in the grand scheme of things. To some people, it might sound trivial – a small thing. But enough people doing one small thing can add up to a lot. Once again, doing this challenge has fired me up to do more to help, and I’m not the only one. That’s why I’m going to keep at it, and why I hope you’ll join us next year too.

My husband’s food bank collection from his lovely work colleagues – thank you guys!

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