April 15, 2013 § 1 Comment
When you think of “students” what tends to spring to mind? That they sleep a lot, drink a lot (of booze), have funny hair and wear flip-flops (in any weather)? A bit of a generalisation perhaps, but we mustn’t underestimate how much of a positive difference our academic neighbours can have on our city. Take Kate Anderson for example.
This week (15th – 19th April) Kate, 20, is taking part in the Live Below the Line challenge, an awareness and fundraising campaign for the fight against extreme poverty. The challenge is to live off just £1 per day for food for 5 days. I know what you’re thinking. As a student Kate should be used to living off an endless routine of rice and beans, but it’s not a laughing matter. Currently 1.4 billion (that’s billion with a B) people are currently living in extreme poverty* across the globe – that’s over 20 times the population of the UK. 1 in 5 of the UK population live below the official poverty line. Scary stats.
So how will she manage? “Well, apart from eating as much as I can between now and then I’ll be fuelled by carbs, water and really cheap tea. Eating meat is a no, fruit and veg is a no, so there won’t be much nutrition”. That might be ok for a week’s challenge but for people who live in extreme poverty, that £1 has to cover far more than just food and drink. It needs to cover everything from the rent, transport, food and education. Hard to fathom really. To make things a bit more interesting Kate is on a coeliac (gluten-free) diet and will also be attempting to write a good 4,000 words of her final year dissertation. On an empty stomach. Pob lwc.
Kate is raising money for Oxfam, whom she is currently volunteering with as a Community Fundraising Assistant. “Oxfam does a lot of work in Wales, which is worrying really. Whilst a lot of money Oxfam GB raises is restricted for certain international appeals, more and more money (including whatever she raises during this challenge) is now being spent on important projects here in the Wales”. You can sponsor Kate via her online donations page. She’s aiming for a modest £200 and I’m sure we can help her reach that target. Just take another look at those thought-provoking stats above.
Alongside volunteering at Oxfam, Kate leads a team of 30 student volunteers working three times a week at the Huggard Centre, supporting their work with the city’s homeless population. “We do two different things when we visit; once a week we’re at the bed unit, cooking food and generally keeping them company; and twice a week we cook a meal for 40 or so people in the day centre. I was there on Valentine’s day this year!” But what makes a 20-year-old girl from Liverpool who’s studying English Literature do all this worthwhile extra-curricular stuff? “All of my family ‘get involved’. We’ve always done charity work. I couldn’t really not do it and feel happy. Meeting people in University who are middle class and get pissed all the time is boring! At the Huggard you meet people who are all really nice and not up their own arse. They all want to talk to you and they’re funny and really interesting. They don’t get to talk to 20-year old girls very often. I was there on Valentine’s day this year”
After finishing school up in Liverpool Kate moved here to study. “I always really liked the look of Cardiff and wanted to f**k off quite far and it wasn’t London. It’s such a laid back, chilled city. I love it”. Many others must agree as students now make up one fifth of Cardiff’s population. That’s a lot of flip-flops. Imagine if they all followed Kate’s lead by doing a lot of good in amongst all that drinking and sleeping (and studying of course). That would be good news for Cardiff. Best of luck with the challenge Kate.
* The international Extreme Poverty Line was defined by the World Bank as $1.25 US dollars a day, in 2005. If you live on less than that every day, you’re recognised internationally as living in extreme poverty.
Kate Anderson is a final year English Literature undergraduate at Cardiff University. She is hungover 50% of the time and is officially hilarious*. On top of her studies Kate volunteers at Oxfam and the Huggard Centre. She sleeps a bit, drinks a lot, has funny hair but does not own flip-flops and does not plan on owning any in the future either. (*Her words!)