john davies
notes from a small curate

    Minimum Wage - Lent Challenge

    BBC Radio Merseyside Thought for the Day 6/3/2003

    You may be wondering what I've given up for Lent this year.

    Well, often I don't give anything up. Instead I'll take something on, like a bit of charitable work perhaps, or some exercise or something else which takes me out of myself.

    But this year for Lent I have decided to give up my income. Not all of it, that'd be impossible. But I've taken up a challenge put to me by an organisation called Church Action on Poverty, CAP for short. The challenge is to live for the next six weeks on the Minimum Wage.

    CAP see the effects of low pay on individuals and families, the meagre existence it creates, the spiral of debt it traps people in. So they're campaigning for a Living Wage, which they put at 5.80 as opposed to the Minimum Wage of 4.10.

    Over a hundred people nationwide have taken up this Lent Challenge. Some, like me, are church leaders who don't get a very high income but do get our housing provided, which makes a big difference. I do ok - mostly this Lent will mean I'll have to stop impulse buying, my cd collection may have to stay static till Easter.

    Some of the people taking part will be writing online diaries about the experience; you can read them on the CAP website. We'll get help and advice from people who have to live on low income all the time.

    I hope the experience will help me reflect on the saying in scripture that God wants each of us to live "life in all its fullness." What does that mean for those struggling to make ends meet? Can life be fuller when it's also tougher? All of our faith traditions say this can be so. Lent is a time to put those beliefs to the test.