Teachers urged to live as asylum seekers during Lent

By staff writers
February 16, 2009

Teachers in Lancashire’s Church of England schools are being challenged to adopt a £15 a week food budget during Lent, to raise funds for Asylum Seekers.

Education experts in the Blackburn Diocese will launch the project on Ash Wednesday (February 25) when a Lay Canon at Blackburn Cathedral will exchange her usual food bill for a daily allowance of just over £2 a day.

“This Lenten project is probably the biggest challenge we have undertaken so far,” said Lisa Fenton, diocesan Senior Advisor to Schools. “Throughout Lent our education officers will be taking turns to live on £15 a week- the amount of money given to Asylum Seekers for living expenses.

“Our challenge will be to spend and live on a £15 food bill for one week during Lent. Each person will also have to give a meal to one of the others while that person is living off £15.”

The £30 difference between the £15 spent and the average UK weekly food bill of £45 will be donated to the Asylum Seekers project at the Cathedral. All Lancashire church schools are being invited to take part, with pupils encouraged to become involved in raising the £30 for the Cathedral project.

“We have had many schools commenting on the project,” said Canon Daphne Durham, Deputy Director Education, who will be launch person for the Lent scheme. “Numbers taking part will become apparent after Lent, when hopefully resources will start trickling in.

“I feel that the reality of living on £15 will be a challenge that will make me budget carefully and not accept being wasteful, and remind me that I am very fortunate and should be more active in supporting anyone less fortunate than myself.

“I am busy collecting recipe ideas for meals that will be nourishing, and the whole week’s menus will have to be planned and a shopping list made, so that I can buy within budget.

“I know that my life is too frenetic and too reliant on convenience- of supermarkets and quickly cooked food. I hope to have a period of thought and reassessment, to try to put realism back.”

John East, Asylum and Refugee Support Worker with the Church of England and the Methodist Church in Blackburn welcomed the “wonderful gesture” from the Anglican Board of Education.

“I have passed this on to our asylum seekers and refugees, who will be very grateful and wish to support the act during Lent,” he said.

Special Lent initiatives are becoming a regular feature of the life and work of the Board of Education in the Blackburn Diocese. Last year Board members became known nationally for imposing an e-mail ban during Lent, in favour of other forms of communication.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.