Church on the Corner

Church on the Corner is an Anglican church in an old pub in Islington, London

if you call your Dad he could stop it all
New week, new beginning. I am not going to beat myself up about last week – guilt isn’t the point of this, though I do feel bad about it. If there is one sense I am realising it is the sense of limited opportunities that I have on this budget. I have to live in a much smaller world, doing less, staying in more, thinking smaller. But I guess like the greek girl in Common people, I will never know how this really feels, because I could always call my Dad/bank manager and make it stop.

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One thought on “if you call your Dad he could stop it all New week…

  1. Garmon says:

    The start of the second week today, so another £50 out of the bank. Except that I took that £50 out on Monday because I’d already run out of money. So, I’m actually down to £30 for the week before it’s even started!

    The week started well, not spending much. But then despite having a cheap weekend – meal at a friend’s house on Friday, DVD and a house party on Saturday – my money ran out very soon. I blame St Valentine! Even the small present was more than I could afford, but it did feel good that the gift would lead to a real sacrifice for the rest of the week – it felt like giving a real gift rather than just a token.

    On Sunday I had to wimp out of going to the pub with the football team, as my last £5 went on playing football. I didn’t fancy sitting there not being able to buy anyone a drink and having to wait until others offered to get me one. I nearly did convince myself that I shouldn’t miss out on social opportunities over this minimum wage challenge and that I should just get some more cash out. But then the whole point of doing this is to get a real feeling for what it’s like to be on that level of income and to take the sacrifices that come with that. The fact is, there are millions of people in the UK who can’t just go out for a meal, or even a pint, without thinking about it – something I often forget. Why do I deserve to be able to do it when others can’t?

    Another challenging thing about doing this challenge is that I can’t buy in bulk. Today I needed some more contact lens solution. Expensive stuff (on minimum wage, would I be able to get some of this as social sec benefit?). Usually I’d buy a multipack of three as it’s far cheaper than buying individually. No way could I do that this week – it would have left me with about £3 to last until next Wednesday! So one bottle it is, and so I’ll probably have to get another one before Lent is over.

    It’s the same with food – I’m finding myself going for the smaller packets of food rather than the bigger multi-packs – and going for cheap (ie unhealthy) food. Also, couldn’t afford my usual £20 phone voucher with a couple of £ free, but had to go for the £5 one which I’ll have to make last as long as poss. Not being able to buy multipack etc actually means I’m spending more money than I would usually. I think this could be one of the main things that I discover the poor are faced with – the poorer you are, the more expensive things actually are and you can’t afford the ways of making things cheaper.

    So, at the start of the second week, I’m down now to £20 after buying the contact lens solution. So if I spend £6 for football on Monday, £5 for football on Sunday – without any post-match drinks – I have £8 until next Weds. And a leaving card has just come round the office – how much of that £8 can I put towards the leaving present?

    So to answer Steve’s mate’s question – how does doing this help the poor at all?

    (Sorry if this next bit sounds cheesy and soppy, but here goes anyway.)

    Obviously it doesn’t really help the poor – but I do think that this experience will benefit me. By living on the minimum wage, I now know what it feels like to not be able to afford a £6 haircut this week, and the embarrassment of not being able to offer to buy a drink for a friend. If this insight into the way of life faced by people on the minimum wage increases my understanding of what it’s like to live that way, and leads me to be even slightly more loving towards those living in poverty, then doing this will surely have been worthwhile.

    Once lent is over, if I am more generous towards those living in poverty, or if the experience leads me to be more vocal in favour policies to reduce poverty, THEN the challenge might actually help those living in poverty.

    For now, just learning more about people and about society is enough.

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