Church, union and community group members live on £1 a day

By staff writers
3 May 2011

Members of churches, trade unions and a host of community groups are pledging to live on £1-a-day from 2-6 May to raise funds and in solidarity with the global poor.

'Live Below the Line' is a movement of thousands of people backing charities and NGO's working to end the injustice of mass inequality.

The initiative points out that 1.4 billion people around the world live on less than what can be bought in the US for $1.25 a day - the equivalent of £1 in Britain.

"It’s enough for some rice, some vegetables, cooking fuel and some clean water to make two basic meals. Then there’s 10 cents left over for everything else in life – housing, transportation, education, clothes, healthcare – anything else they might need to survive," a spokesperson said.

Owen Tudor, who is head of European Union and International Relations at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), explained why his organisation is involved.

He said: "The TUC has been working in solidarity with trade unions across the globe, supporting workers who, even though they are living below the poverty line, are still fighting for the rights of the people in their countries. TUC Aid has been working to ensure that trade unionists in the most oppressive and poverty-stricken countries are still able to have their voices heard."

Tudor added: "As a global movement we understand deeply the meaning of solidarity and that is why we are supporting Live Below the Line. This campaign is reaching out to people and giving them an opportunity to experience the challenges that are faced by 1.4 billion people around the world every day and raise money for charities working to put an end to this injustice."

Gandhi said that "poverty is the worst form of violence", and those taking part in the pound-a-day challenge agree.

Claire Whybrow, a 22-year-old outdoor activity instructor, is raising money for Salvation Army International Development (UK).

She said: "I think Live Below the Line is an awesome way for people across Britain to challenge themselves and unite to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable people across the world. I hope many will join me in standing alongside our global neighbours as we strive to shift the balance of inequality."

The initiative is bringing together people from Britain, the United States, Australia and other Global North countries to experience fleetingly what it is like to subsist in parts of the Global South.

In 2009, Rich Fleming from the Global Poverty Project and Nick Allardice from the Oaktree Foundation were living together in a shared house. Originally meeting in the slums of Bangladesh, Nick and Rich shared a common passion for alleviating poverty. Many of their conversations highlighted how hard it was to truly understand the lack of freedom and choice that living in extreme poverty entailed.

In September 2009 Nick made a challenge to Rich – buy all his food with the income of someone living in extreme poverty – US$1.25 a day. The experience dramatically shifted Rich's perspective on life. He struggled with a lack of variety and flavour in his diet. His day was disrupted by things as simple as a flat bike tyre.

Together, Fleming and Allardice saw the opportunity to take the concept to thousands of Australians to help them appreciate the reality of extreme poverty, and in doing so raise critical money to continue the work needed to end extreme poverty. In this way, Live Below The Line was born.

In August 2010, the Global Poverty Project and The Oaktree Foundation launched the campaign in Australia. 15,000 people signed up, and nearly half a million dollars was raised.

The campaign spread from there. For more details, how to participate (even if you're a 'late starter') and information on the impact of the campaign, go to: http://www.livebelowtheline.org.uk/

[Ekk/3]

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