From 21 November, all four of Glasgow University’s student bodies lived on £1 a day for five days in order to raise money for Glasgow’s North-West food bank. Members of the Students’ Representative Council, Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow University Union and Glasgow University Sports Association all took part in the initiative.
This meant that their daily food and drink budget came in at less than the cost of a library coffee.
This is the first time the student bodies have collectively participated in this challenge, which aims to raise awareness of the 1.2 billion people across the world who currently live below the poverty line. In Glasgow alone up to 820,000 people live in relative poverty.
The funds raised by council members will go towards Glasgow’s North-West food bank, which is one of 50 Trussell group food banks set up in Scotland over the last seven years. The fundraising target of £2000 will go towards deprived members of the community in the run up to Christmas.
The concept of the Live Below the Line challenge is to eat and drink on just £1 a day for five days in order to experience some of the adversities that those living in poverty face on a daily basis. On the blog dedicated to the campus-wide challenge, Vice-President for Student Activities and member of the SRC Charity Board Mhairi Harris said: “Walking up Byres Road the other day my eyes were opened to the sheer extent of how fast food advertising dominates our high streets- Greggs, Subway, Mario’s… for the first time I realised how isolated you can feel by not being able to afford any of this.”
The campaign has faced criticism in the past for attempting to emulate poverty through only one aspect of it, and has been accused of making a novelty of choosing to eat and drink below the poverty line for a limited period of time. Mhairi Harris commented: “I know fundraising has its opinions from people. Several asking why you would choose to mimic others in need. I do think it is important however, and not every fundraiser is perfect. I am lucky after all. At least I get to come home to a warm and safe flat and know that this challenge is going to end. Others in Scotland and around the world, don’t.”
58% of the population living in poverty in Glasgow are employed. Figures released at the beginning of November revealed that low income has increased the proportion of people referred to Trussell Trust foodbanks in Scotland from 21% from April to September 2015 to 24% over the same period in 2016.