poverty reprised (LBTL diaries) – unpredictability

Many of you have got in touch to say how helpful you found our Living below the line diaries  earlier this month. Like us,  you were challenged to rethink what you need, what you spend, and how you can make a difference to the 1.4 billion people living below the poverty line in our world.

Here is another taste of honesty and challenge from our friend Fiona Schneider, who followed our example and tried the £5 for five days challenge a couple of weeks after us. It’s day four and Fiona faces the challenge of living below the line away from home…


It’s day four of living below the line

Today is a really expensive day. I have overslept and missed my  “this train only ticket “ train to London. A full fare single of over £120 is looming. Fail.

How will I survive in London?  

One good thing of going to London is that I have left oats, orange, potatoes and milk and tea behind for tomorrow. I still have a pint of milk in the fridge for my last 24 hours. Nothing was going to stop me eating my oats this morning, nor making tea.

My colleagues know not to tempt me. And East Coast trains  “ apologise for any inconvenience caused “ as the trolley service is off. Now that is not normally a point of temptation, but you never know where the “Eat” or ‘Drink” arrow may be fired from. Why did I repeatedly have a craving for liquorice early on in the week?

Maybe I’m a cheat and yes, I was late today, but I still had five minutes before the next train and harvested a big bunch of watercress from the station.  It is a diet that any plate in London could be proud of.

And how did I survive in London?

Very well and no failures.

The lunch menu was baked potato, watercress and a half grated apple for lunch, on a rooftop in the sun overlooking the Shard. It was good to have an excess of watercress and to share it around sceptical colleagues. The verdict was a resounding endorsement for freshness and flavour. The supper menu was baked potato on a china plate in an Islington garden drinking London water.

Even London water tasted much better than anticipated.

My times of vulnerability were around King’s Cross before boarding and on the train itself. I was not hungry, but energy seemed low and temptation, even from the sad on train service came in mild waves.

And the train ticket?

For want of setting an alarm, the new ticket cost about four months of my food and drink budget on this regimen. Poverty is a cruel place for the unexpected.

A prayer to remember (from the Sanctuary)

Help me Lord to remember
A week, month, year from now
What it felt like to experience a taste of hunger,
And to stand in some small way next to those
Who know what it feels like really – regularly – repeatedly.

And help me Lord to remember
A week, month, year from now
How grateful I feel today for the security of my safety nets
For there are those for whom the unexpected is a cruel increase
To poverty’s persistent pain.

Help me Lord to remember
A week, month, year from now
How hungry I was for change today.
And to continue to stand up, speak out, act relentlessly
Until everyone expects – and insists – that this scandal must end.

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