It's over! 6 things I learnt Living Below the Line | ActionAid UK

Over the past 5 days I've learnt a lot about Living Below the Line. I now know all about the importance of carbs, nutrition and portion sizes. But, I've also learnt a few things that I will be taking away with me.

1. Never dunk budget biscuits

Dunking budget biscuits - a fraught activity

I’ve never been a dunker. I don’t like the idea of soggy biscuits at the bottom of my tea. But my team mate Jo waited all day to savour her biscuit and rashly made the decision to dunk. Sadly her budget biscuit couldn’t take the strain, and promptly dissolved into nothingness. I felt her pain.

2. I could get a lot more for my money


Have I really been spending this much on food? Why on earth have I been spending £2 on pasta when it’s available for 20p? I’ve never taken the time to really think about what I’m putting in my shopping basket. But my Live Below the Line breakfasts are here to stay.

3. Take care when cooking

Sausage spaghetti

By the end of the week, I was sick of sausage spaghetti (my daily evening meal). So, after a long think, I made the decision to forgo my filling evening meal and have a sausage sandwich instead. To my horror… I burnt the sausages.

4. People are quiet when they are hungry

Laura being quiet

I’ve been lucky enough to have my entire team take on the challenge with me. We’re an events and engagement team so normally, if you walk by you’ll be welcomed with cheer, smiles and usually some cake. But this week it’s been an entirely different ball game.

I’ve often looked up to see everyone quietly typing away, bracing myself to say something encouraging to a response of weak, grateful smiles, but finding I just don’t have the energy. We seem to have lost our collective voice, and we just don’t have the energy to find it.

5. There are heroes all around you


I ran out of breakfast on Wednesday – on DAY 3! I couldn’t believe it! But a trusty team mate sacrificed a portion of her own Below the Line porridge with jam – a wonderful gesture that kept me going.

It was just one of a number of actions throughout the week that helped to generate our own little below the line community – always there to support one another in our time of hardship.

6. 5 days is long enough

I am thrilled that I’ve made it through this week. But there’s an elephant in the room. I know that I am about to eat a truly hearty meal to congratulate myself for all my hard work. And, in reality, the 1.2 billion people who do this everyday, rarely have that option.

ActionAid works with people all across the world, to ensure that they too, can feed themselves, for the long-term. In particular, we work with women like Regina, to ensure that they have the tools, rights and land that they need, in order to provide for themselves and their families.

Thanks to training from ActionAid, Regina successfully produces vegetables such as kale, spinach, managu, cow peas, tomatoes and onions on her small farm in West Pokot, Kenya.

Regina Jackson, 35

Finally the Live Below the Line challenge is over for us, but for many around the world there is no end in sight.

If you think you are up for the challenge, then sign up now, and take part in Live Below the Line 2015