Baroness Living on a Pound a Day

Guest Contributor

Picture of Baroness JenkinI’m Anne Jenkin (nee Strutt).  I became a Conservative Member of the Lords on 27th January.  I started working in the House of Commons as a secretary to various MPs in 1977, so the Westminster Village is very much my home.  I come from a political family – three of my grandparents were in the House of Lords, and two of them in the Commons as well.  I have spent the past few years campaigning for and encouraging more women (Conservative in my case) to become Members of Parliament.  After the 2005 general election we still had only 9% of the parliamentary party.  Bad for the Conservative Party but also bad for the credibility of politics as a whole.  We have gone from 17 to 49 at the election last year, but there is a long way to go.  My grandmother was the only Conservative woman MP elected in 1945, and her father as a Liberal MP introduced the first women’s suffrage bill in 1907, so without really realising it, I have a family history in this area. You can read more about my views on women in politics in my Maiden Speech which I made on 3rd March.

I was awarded my peerage for charitable work as well as political and I hope to use my role in the Lords to draw attention to causes I get steamed up about.  I’m actively involved with five or six charities in different sectors – which brings me to my charitable challenge where I’m taking part in Live Below the Line from 2-6 May in which I’ll be living on £1 a day to raise money for the charity Restless Development. They do brilliant work training and supporting young people (a much under-utilised resource) in the developing world for very little cost – real value for money which appeals to me.  I am now a patron.

I have set my target for £5k and am very close to achieving that thanks to the wonderful support of many generous friends.  The campaign was initiated by the Global Poverty Project and I am delighted to be on their Advisory Board, together with Lord McConnell who initiated the House of Lords debate on Extreme Poverty in the Developing World which I participated in last Thursday.

The campaign appeals to me because I am by nature a frugal and careful shopper and cook and I am interested to see how I can stretch the budget – but it is also relevant to the cause we are supporting.  Anyone can run the marathon (only joking! I could no more do that than fly to the moon), but living below the line for five days will actually bring home to those of us who are participating how people who live on a pound every single day have very little choice in their lives.  If their child is ill, they have to choose between eating, or getting medicine and going to bed hungry.

So, I’ll be having porridge for breakfast as I do every day, but made with water and without the usual seeds and delicious stewed fruit. Filling but very boring!

For the three days in the middle of the week I’ve volunteered to make lunch and to run a soup kitchen in the House of Lords for anyone participating in the challenge who works in the Palace of Westminster. The Lord Speaker has kindly allowed us to use the River Room kitchen (hopefully no health and safety issues).  So far there are five peers, a cross party group – Lord (Jack) McConnell, former First Minister for Scotland (who I first ran into in a Scottish TV studio in 1987 when I contested Glasgow Provan for the Conservative Party.  Not a happy experience!); the Lord Speaker; Baroness Morris of Bolton and Baroness (Judith) Jolly and I hope others in Parliament may join in and turn up – but let me know first, portion control is crucial.

I spent about 2 hours in Tesco last week, putting things into and out of the trolley, trying to work out where to save the odd pence or two to stretch it further.  Fine as a one off, but imagine having to work out every single penny every time you go shopping.  I was thrilled to find four HUGE potatoes (600g each) for a pound which will go a long way.

Lunch tomorrow will consist of soup for 11.5p per portion – recipe as follows.

1kg bag of frozen mixed vegetables 65p; 2 stock cubes 2p; half enormous potato 13p; one onion 10p; can of baked beans 25p; 10 grams lentils 10p.

Two slices of cheap Tesco bread (2p per slice) with very cheap own brand cheese spread (4p) and a tomato 3p (got another good deal at the market 40 tomatoes for £1.20) and finish off with custard (two packets at 6p each) and half a banana.  So reasonably nutritious and I hope filling, but it has been time consuming planning it and this is only day one.  Imagine having to plan like this every day?

There will be one dinner where I have to be out (a monthly MPs’ wives dining club as my husband is the MP Bernard Jenkin), and I’ll have a glass of tap water instead of eating which will help to raise awareness which is a large part of the campaign.

Otherwise instead of the usual busy week, I’ve planned a very quiet one! (apart from various media appearances to promote the campaign).

I’ll hopefully be updating you all on my progress this week – watch this space and let me know if you too are taking part in the challenge…

10 comments for “Baroness Living on a Pound a Day

  1. Senex
    03/05/2011 at 4:48 pm

    “I’m Anne Jenkin (nee Strutt).”

    Ah! You mean you were before incarceration? Now you are Baroness Jenkin of Kennington suo jure, currently serving a life sentence at her majesties pleasure in the House of Lords with no hope of parole or retirement. You will be released from your writ once every Parliament to savour the life, the freedom you once enjoyed before once again being ordered to return to the duty that imprisons. Welcome to the blog; the portal of noble conscience.

    Ref: Baroness Jenkin of Kennington

  2. Gareth Howell
    03/05/2011 at 6:26 pm

    Lady Jenkin,
    I was thinking only this morning that the palace of Westminster makes odd people due to its imbalance of the genders, and that it is so much better now due to the campaign in the Labour party in 1995 onwards for more women, and which carried over to the cons party later.

    I can’t say I have any respect for more than one or two of them, but women there are nonetheless! A fine speaking voice and an intelligent one, is surely a necessity in parliament!

    I have my own curious ambitions, and one is to dine for a year only on the produce of my own small garden of half an acre, AND produced only by me.

    I regret to say that this so far only succeeds with my ability to produce enough Apple juice for the whole year not to drink tea or coffee, and the effect of yeast on the sucrose of the apple juice is well known!

    May you enjoy your time in the House of

  3. MilesJSD
    03/05/2011 at 10:20 pm

    Alas! – twice over, Baroness Jenkin:

    firstly the “”£1-a-day Live Below The Line” is just another wealthy-professional-clubs’ gaming-pitch to usurp. and to sinecurely ‘lead’, the enormously-better sustainworthiness of the poor and permanently low-incomed;

    that is so ‘pusillanimous – not even dipping one toe into the starvation and degradation waters in which billions of your “fellow-humans” have to hold their breath and float, and painfully try to tread-the-filthy-waters, just to survive and try to continue citizenlike and neighbourly, worse than rats on a caged treadmill, not hour after hour, nor day after day, nor for a week-end fasting-rest; but for year after year, decade after decade, lifetime after lifetime, and generation-after-generation.
    I just spent several hours preparing to join-in, and to start a new team calling it “To Build a Sustainworthiness-Building Team”, and already to contribute foundation and essential new or overlooked enablements and skill sources;
    only to suddenly have the whole input wiped off my computer;

    but after going back through your given link
    “Live Below The Line” and successfully logging-in again there, none of my previously visible input was traceable.
    I have emailed them.
    Meanwhile, to check up on the spirit and principles I believe to be being persistently and malfeasantly overlooked, but which I have long been trying to serve and share, please visit; ; –

    these are not-for-profit citizens voluntary democratic participation sites;
    (and I think I might be the only one participating !)

    but any-one can get some key-resources and rationales therefrom, freely that is (out of my continuing taxes as well as out of yours & all-others’) to be copied and printed out to the heart’s content.

    Mere water and porridge for a few days will yield up no time whatsoever for such essentially-generic new-foundations as the Friendly Voluntary Method III Needs & Affordable-Hows Listing and win-win-win Cooperative Problem Solving;
    and other human-energy and resources-cost-effectiveness sources;

    but I am sure any medium- and longest- term resolutions into Living Within This Earth’s Means – and Sustainworthily, Non-destructively, Non-extinctingly so – will die insidiously in a continuation of polluted-waters and failing-foods,
    without Method III as a principal and principled Democratic-People-&-Parliaments governance-first-resort.
    I can only trust that a genuine, sober, and seriously-conducted Movement for Sustainworthiness will soon emerge, within the United Nations, the EU, and the UK; and that there will be constituted- sustainworthying-avenues within it, for every level of of the People, the Parliament, the Peerage, the Professions, and the “Hoi-Polloi” to become newly and equally enabled by.

  4. Carl.H
    03/05/2011 at 10:54 pm

    My Lady a little tip, Aldi much cheaper than Tesco though taste may not be upto scratch I’m sure nutritutional values will be similar.

    Does the pound have to include in power costs ? If so I hope it does not turn colder.

  5. Gareth Howell
    04/05/2011 at 7:39 am

    One way of showing up the high prices in the Palace of Westminster dining rooms.

    That’s charity! Now do it cheaper for us!

  6. maude elwes
    04/05/2011 at 11:33 am

    I heard this on the radio this morning and it struck me as another neo con.

    First of all, those living on a pound a day do not have the time for a two hour shop, or, the grey matter needed to hunt and peck isn’t in the picture. Also, in looking for the ‘cheap buy’ are you taking into account what you are really paying for and if that produce is nutritionally healthy? As finding products without the various additives and chemicals is a giant issue for those people who have the wherewithal, let alone those who find reading difficult. The print being so small.

    No, what this is all about is telling the population how lucky they are to be able to live so cheaply on what the most afluent in society allocated them.

    Inflation is at a level seen last when Heath was in power in the seventies and the job here is to ‘prove’ that is not true.

    Smoke screen on top of smoke screen.

    How do you get rid of these people in this democratic society? It is impossible to vote them out. They churn away year after year with smug faces and bigger emoluments, as they grin and look ridiculous.

    The influx of women is an influx of wives, relatives and friends. They have their own income now, so, no need to worry about supporting them any longer…. Unless you are the tax payer that is.

    As our country swells its population the less and less democracy we experience. I wonder why that is?

    Anyone know?

  7. Twm O'r Nant
    04/05/2011 at 4:26 pm

    I invariably find that my diet improves considerably if I economize.

    You will be healthier by the end of it.

    Have a few multi-vits too.

  8. JJ
    06/05/2011 at 1:35 pm

    While it’s not exactly living below the poverty line, anything that gives our decision makers a better idea of what it might be to face harsh choices – and monotony – i think is a good thing.

  9. Eve
    07/05/2011 at 9:48 am

    The Live Below the Line campaign is doing an impressive job of helping everyone, from all backgrounds, professions and parts of the world realise they have a role to play in putting an end to extreme poverty faced by the lives of 1.4 billion people- the majority being young people. There is lots more to do, but this is a great start.

  10. E
    07/05/2011 at 9:52 am

    The Live Below the Line campaign is doing an impressive job of helping everyone, from all backgrounds, professions and parts of the world realise they have a role to play in putting an end to extreme poverty faced by the lives of 1.4 billion people globally- the majority being young people. There is lots more to do, but this is a great start.

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