Could you live on £1 a day?By Carol Evans
March 11, 2013
Tracey Rawling Church celebrated her birthday last week with cakes in her office. A few days earlier, the 52-year-old was living on the breadline for charity and could barely afford a crust.
For five days, Mrs Rawling Church, a director at Kyocera Document Solutions in Gillette Way, South Reading, survived on £1 a day for the Live Below the Line charity to raise money for Oxfam.
She said: “It was surprisingly challenging. It was difficult to shop around to find enough for under £5.
“It was impossible to include meat and I couldn’t find any fresh fruit or veg that I could afford to keep my energy levels up.
“It took quite a long time to work out how to get enough food to live on within the budget.”
In the end, Mrs Rawling Church, who lives in Central Reading, chose her menus from low-cost ‘value’ brands on the shelves of the Morrisons supermarket near her office. She said: “One loaf lasted me for the full five days so I had a slice of toast and a scrape of value marmalade for breakfast every day.
“For dinner, I made veggie chilli or pasta sauce, all value brands.
“Working in an office, lunch was more of a problem, but I ended up with five packets of value Super Noodles in a variety of flavours.
“But I managed to keep body and soul together.
“I turned down offers of free tea and coffee and two lots of birthday cakes in the office.
“I drank value lemon squash at 28p a bottle or water and for a hot drink I had peppermint tea and used each teabag twice. I had no budget for milk.
“The worst part of the whole thing was not having a healthy diet, not having enough fresh fruit and vegetables. I didn’t feel what I had was very balanced.
“I don’t think I consumed any fat for the whole five days and lost four pounds in weight.”
Mrs Rawling Church did not impose her self-inflicted diet on her family, husband Simon and 12-year-old son Alex, who is now eager to undertake his own Below the Line Challenge in the school holidays.
Mrs Rawling Church said: “If you are compelled to live on that little amount of money, then you are going to have to put effort into shopping around and getting the best you can.
“I didn’t have economies of scale. It would be easier if there was a bigger group.”
Mrs Rawling Church will donate the sum between her normal spend on food and the £5 challenge to Oxfam, to go towards its Who Feeds the World initiative.
She said: “This challenge has been a practical thing to do, not everyone is equipped to run marathons or do abseiling.
“This is a nice way of raising money that is relevant to the issues we are trying to resolve.”
More information about the challenge and how to become involved is available at www.livebelowtheline.org.uk