Stef Monaco


In today's world, extreme poverty and inequality are unjustifiable and unfair. Live Below the Line demonstrates the problem in a concrete way, while raising money to address the problem. Support me as I live below the line by donating now – your generous support will go towards fighting extreme poverty.


Sally Peters donated

Amazing work Stef! I know you can do it - a fantastic cause x


Roni Patel donated

Very commendable task and worthy cause, good luck Stef!


Claire Paulyn donated

Good luck Stef xx


Shalina Dhalla donated

Good luck Stef, a hugely worthy cause x


Matt Antrobus donated

Rather you than me! Good luck :-)


Day 1

28th April 2014

Half-way through the first day of LBTL and the going is rough. Due to a hefty number of reasons (and some bad decisions, I suspect), I ended up not being able to do my £5 shop for the week before the midnight deadline. The result is that it is now 1.30 pm on Day 1 and all I've had to eat is an apple (£0.25) from an old multipack I'd left at the office. Because I work in Holborn, there are no cheap supermarkets around so buying emergency oats for a quid is completely out of the question. I had intended to start my social media attack on celebrities and glitterati today but just thinking about engaging my brain at all makes me want to cry. Although my current situation is bad, I want to share with you what I'm feeling and the lessons I have learned from today:

1. On average, people need 2000 kcal a day to function (both physiologically and psychologically). I am now half-way through my day and I've only consumed 47. Consequences include lethargy, headache, weakness in the joints and extremities and a pretty miserable mood. I have absolutely no energy and even the simplest tasks feel horribly difficult. Living under the poverty line means your body is not getting adequate nutrition. This effectively impairs your ability to function and, on a larger scale, means that opportunities for education and upwards socio-economic mobility are pretty thin on the ground.

2. Due to my restricted budget, I can't just walk into any shop and buy anything I feel like eating. I will have to do without until I can find the right shop, that sells food at the right prices. I will buy whatever I can find there, regardless of what I would like to eat or feel I should be eating. To me this means waiting until I leave the office at 5.30 pm to go all the way down to Clapham to Asda, Lidl or Aldi the afforable supermarkets that are closer to my flat. It's a long way to go on a crowdwed train at rush hour when you've had hardly anything to eat. Living under the poverty line means lack of choice. It means your freedom to decide what food to eat is curtailed. You will eat what's available within your budget. In turn, this means that you will have to travel whatever distance is necessary to find food that you can afford. My mind keeps going back to all those trips aboard a chicken bus in Nicaragua, chock full of women of all ages carrying really heavy baskets, bags, boxes full of food and other essentials.

3. A full tummy is a happy tummy by the same token, an empty tummy is a very cranky one. It's only been a few hours of being hungry but I feel like I want to cry. Exactly like a hungry baby would. I am quietly sat at my desk while my co-workers eat their lunch and engage in happy banter. I feel like a pariah but really just can't even muster up the energy to join in the proceedings. Living under the poverty line means hunger and the need to satisfy it takes precedence over everything else. How can anyone raise a happy child when both parent and child are not eating properly? How can parents maintain healthy, fulfilling relationships both with their partners and their children when they are hungry?

I am in a hell of my own making because I didn't plan correctly. But I know there's light at the end of the tunnel; I'll do my shop today and tomorrow I'll have better food. But what if I was in this situation because I had no money available and I didn't know when I would get any? Think about the seasonal farm workers that grow the coffee we all love so much. Many of them work informally, never knowing when they'll have work or when they'll get paid. The future looks a lot grimmer then

Why am I Living Below the Line?

11th April 2014


30th March 2014