Living below the line one day at a time

4th year student, Maria Williamson, is living on £1 a day.


Maria Williamson is living below the line for a month to raise money for her VSO project abroad. With just £1 a day to spend on food, 4th year English and Philosophy student Maria is aiming to raise the £800 pounds that will enable her to go abroad for 3months in July to work on a Voluntary Service Abroad ISC programme.

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The Tab caught up with Maria to see how she’s getting on:

First of all, why did you decide to do this, live below the line?

Well it’s to raise money for my VSO ISC programme which is a programme for 18-25 olds to go away and volunteer on a project. I have to raise £800 and I thought living below the line would show my commitment to the programme.

Were you inspired by anyone in particular or do you know someone who’s done this before?

My friend Amy went away to the Philipinnes and she had an amazing time. She said it was brilliant. You are immersed in the culture and get to live with a local family while working on the project.

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Where would you like to go?

I’d quite like to go to Nepal but I won’t  find out until 3 months before I go. I think they’ll put me on an education programme. You don’t really get a choice where you go – could be Africa, Asia – but at the interview stage they get an idea of where will suit you best.

How are you finding it?

So hard. My brain is constantly in a lentil fog. I feel like a 90 year old woman. I keep feeling like I’m going to forget how to speak!

What have been the worst moments so far?

There was one week when I made this lentil crap. I used stock cubes and didn’t realise how insanely salty they were. It was horrible but I had to eat it every day. I’m also producing a play at the moment as well, the English Literature Department play, and it’s quite tricky trying to juggle that as well.

Yummy...

Yummy…

And the best?

Every time I get to the end of the week and every time I get a donation. I’ve already reached the halfway mark of £400. Some people are so generous, even if they don’t know me that well!

What is your best and cheapest recipe? There are lots of hungry student out there who could use your advice!

There’s this one great Jamie Oliver recipe, spinach and ricotta rotola. I made half the recipe and it lasted me 4 meals for 35p a portion. I also made a butternut squash and feta pizza. I don’t think I’ve spent over £7 a week so far.

Now this is budgeting!

Now this is budgeting!

Oo, sounds tasty! But how did you survive Valentine’s Day without chocolate?!

It was horrible. But Tesco Value biscuits are not bad for a sweet snack.

So if someone offers you food, can you not take it?

No I can’t accept it. It’s hard.

Are you drinking/going out/partying at all?

No, I have no social life at all!

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Keep at it girl! Read  Maria’s blog  to keep up to date with her progress in the final 2 weeks and to help her fundraise for her journey. The money earned from the play Maria is producing will also go towards her cause.