Taking our place at the table to understand life on a £1 a day


Next week BGS is getting behind the national campaign Live below the Line. Not only does the campaign raise money, it also heightens an understanding and awareness of individuals living below the poverty line. The campaign challenges individuals to live off a £1 a day for five days and in doing so raise money through sponsorship as well as bringing to life the direct experiences of the 1.4 billion people currently living in extreme poverty. All around the world, including the UK, people are struggling to feed their family.

This year I have very much enjoyed teaching Geography to Year 9 pupils and one topic they particularly feel passionate about is third world development. They question why, in this day and age, families struggle to survive and more importantly what can they do to make a difference. I was not surprised that when offered the Live below the Line challenge that the girls embraced it and wanted to take part.

Next week 20 girls from Year 9, a fifth of the year group, and 8 members of staff, including myself will take up this challenge. We have met over several weeks to discuss and plan how best to approach and tackle the challenge. The decision has been to divide into five groups to enable us to pool and share our resources. Each day a group will cook lunch in the Food Technology centre for the others. We will come together and share the food, offering a collective moment of both encouragement and reflection on the purpose of the challenge.

I have been very proud of the girls’ mature approach. They recognise that it will be a challenge; they will have to forego the things they love to eat and will not be able to eat anything at any time. But they also recognise that for many families it is even more challenging as that £1 has to be used not just for food but also clothing and shelter. They are keen to raise money and have set up a Just Giving page which they would love people to support. We will also be running a blog during the week where the girls can share their experiences. This post will be the first in our Live Below the Line blog and you can follow the girls’ progress throughout the week here.

Some have questioned whether I am being a responsible adult encouraging adolescent girls to follow extreme diets. For me, the campaign is not about encouraging the girls to starve, quite the contrary, it is about learning how to plan, share and economise. Important lessons in life, I think, for the girls to learn. I am also committed to ensuring that girls at BGS have a greater understanding of communities other than their own and feel they can make a difference to other people’s lives. This campaign does both and I have been very impressed by the manner in which the girls have embraced it.

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