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Students pounded by charity challenge

Students across Oxford are taking part in the national project ‘Live Below The Line’ which aims to raise money for charity and raise awareness about poverty.

Those involved in the campaign have to spend only £1 a day on food and drink for five days, including any ingredients you already have at home or gifts given from friends or family. The scheme in Oxford is running between Monday 29th April and Friday 3rd May.

The campaign was started in 2009 by Rich Fleming from the Global Poverty
Project and Nick Allardice from the Oaktree Foundation in Australia when they decided to live on $1.25 for three weeks.

Oxford students from across the university have signed up to the campaign, with groups from Brasenose and Hertford taking part  together. Working in groups allows people to pool their money, exploiting economices of scale and therefore making it easier to buy more food.

By Tuesday the campaign had nationally raised £462,000, with three more days to go until the end of the project. Donations close at the beginning of July.

Brasenose’s team have raised £1,244 so far, and has eleven members. Some Oxford students have taken part as members of ‘Just Love’ a new
organisation run by Christian students which encourages other students to engage with issues of social justice.

Tomas Christmas, a member of Just Love told Cherwell, “There are over thirty of us doing Live Below the Line this week, for the purpose of solidarity with the poor and to raise money for those who need resources most.

“There are so many injustices in the world, so many people who suffer while we live in relative comfort, and we want to actively take whatever steps we can to stand with these people and raise awareness of their situations. This was fundamental to how Jesus lived, and we want it to become fundamental in our lives today.

“By day 2 the challenge is already becoming very tough – and tomorrow will be worse as the rest of my college will be having roast duckling with
rissolee potatoes for dinner! (I’m not even sure what they are but they’re probably better than the everyday value bread I’ve been having.)”

He continued, “On the plus side, I’ve raised a bit of money for Malaria No
More, an incredible charity who have been greatly reducing malaria deaths
in sub-Saharan Africa.” 

Charlotte Weller, a student taking part as a team from Brasenose college also commented, “The goal is one thousand, two hundred pounds as a team by Friday. I think this week will make me realise exactly how lucky I am. It’s already been a lot harder than I expected it would be, all I seem to think about it food and prices. Ideally, I’d also like to make it to Friday without passing out.”

Another participant, Ruth Meredith, stated, “So far, it’s been a bit grim, but obviously nothing on the scale of being in perpetual poverty. While we’re struggling to get through the day, we know that come Saturday, we can eat what we like. We don’t have to deal with the reality of being permenetly in poverty, knowing that next week I’ll be as hungry as
this week, and as hungry as I was last week.

She continued, “Hopefully, we’ll raise awareness, and funds, for some
of the causes like UNICEF and Positive Women trying to tackle some of the problems.”

Participant Alice Newton-Fenner said, “This week is offering a glimpse
of the massive difficulty that something as simple as eating can present
to those without the resources we take for granted. Despite being
coerced into it by a friend, I really am getting to understand the actual value for money.”

Other Oxford students have also been receptive to the idea. Rupert
Tottman, a student at Balliol College opined, “I think it’s a good idea, especially if it’s raising money for charity. Hopefully it will also make people
more aware about poverty and make people like Iain Duncan-Smith think
when they say it’s easy to live on benefits.”

Sarah Santhosham, OUSU Vice President (Charities & Community) said,
“It’s good to see students across colleges joining together in a challenging initiative to help combat extreme poverty. Such fundraising initiatives are great not only for raising money for some of the leading development charities, but also for raising awareness of the plight of over a billion people.”

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