Poverty – Blog Action Day

By admin
Category: Personal | Date: Wed 15 Oct, 2008

This post is in support of 2008’s Blog Action Day on poverty.

Most of us students feel pretty hard up at times (usually when it’s been months, and several large parties, since the last instalment of loan). And most of us wouldn’t call ourselves “rich”. But, in comparison to much of the world, we’re stupendously well off.

Did you know that 80% – 4/5ths – of the world’s population lives on an income of under $10 a day? (About £5.50.) And over one billion people survive on one dollar a day, about 55p. That’s the price of a chocolate bar.

I find those figures almost impossible to take in. And, as a student, I don’t have a huge amount of disposable income – but I do want to help tackle poverty. So what options are there?

Get involved in campaigning

One of the great things about being at university is having some flexibility over your time, and having the zeal for good causes that the “real world” seems to knock out of so many people.

Why not get involved with campaigning on issues that you feel passionate about? You might want to look into the Make Poverty History campaign (which incorporates the Drop the Debt campaign). You could join Amnesty International and help with letter-writing efforts.

Many universities have a branch of Amnesty, and political societies such as Socialist Workers or other left-wing groups will often be taking part in marches against war or trade injustice.

I’m not going to tell you what charities or campaigns you should support – your political and social views may be very different to mine. But do consider getting involved; your one voice, in chorus with other students around the country, really can make a difference.

Donate something other than money

Don’t use “I’m too broke” as an excuse not to donate to charities. These are all great alternatives donations if you don’t have cash to spare:


I’ve taken two big bags full of clothes to our local charity shop this month; all were in good condition, but they were things I never wore (too small, too big, “not me”.) Have a wardrobe clearout – if you’ve not worn it in the last year, chances are you won’t miss it!


Charity shops, and one-off sales in church halls, always welcome old books, videos, DVDs, and so on. Look through your bookshelves for anything you read/watched once and don’t plan to ever revisit. Unlike clothes, which need to be in good condition, second-hand books will often be accepted even if fairly battered.


If you’ve got a few hours to spare every week, there’s almost certainly a charity shop in your area who’d welcome your help! Volunteering some of your time can make a real difference, and you may also find you really enjoy the break from studying and university life. Soup kitchens and homeless shelters also welcome student volunteers – poverty isn’t confined to the third world.


Some students have skills that many small charities would hugely welcome. I created a website for one charity, and I help out with the occasional bit of writing or editing. If you’ve got technical, artistic or administrative talents, there’s certain to be a charity nearby who could use your help.

Get sponsored

If you’d like to donate money to charity but don’t have any of your own to spare, why not give someone else’s? I’m not advocating mugging people (or even becoming a chugger) in order to do your bit, but instead taking part in a sponsored event. Many charities organise these centrally, and I’m sure you took part in a few during your schooldays.

If you can’t find a ready-made sponsored event to join in with, why not come up with your own? Often, the wackier (or more painful) the idea, the more popular it is. Popular student sponsored events include:

  • Blokes having their legs waxed
  • Blokes (and sometimes women) having their heads shaved
  • Lying in a bath of baked beans
  • Bungee jumping and sky diving (needs professional organisation)

You can find a few more ideas listed here (not particularly student specific, though giving up booze/fags could be a good challenge…)

Sponsored walks and runs are also very popular, and fairly easy to arrange. Fancy dress can give these the “wacky” factor.

The one message I really want to leave you with on 2008’s Blog Action Day is that you are not powerless. Yes, the statistics about poverty are horrifying – but we really can make a difference. Whatever you choose to do, do something.

Further reading:

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