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Forget Iain Duncan-Smith and his £53 a week – Elm Park man Gerry Haines is setting out to raise awareness of UK poverty by living off just £1 a day.

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The Cowdray Way resident is taking on the challenge as part of a national project called Living Below the Line.

Gerry – who volunteers with the Global Poverty Project, as well as working with the Trinity United Reformed Church in Upminster’s Church Action on Poverty group – said he’d been spurred into action by what he perceived as a growing divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

“There are 13 million people in Britain living on or below the bread line,” he said. “Most people are struggling to make ends meet but a minority of people have actually seen their incomes increase in real terms over the last 30 years.

“We call for fair taxes, fair prices, fairer pay and a fairer say for working people - in short, we want to close the income gap between the highest paid people in society and the rest of us. Currently, the country’s top earners get more than 130 times the average earner’s salary.

“Those at the top should share the money more fairly. If workers at the bottom earned a bigger percentage of the wealth they helped create, there would be less demand on social services.”

For Gerry, who knows what it’s like to grow up without a lot of money, it’s a personal campaign too.

“I was a ‘latchkey kid’,” he told the Recorder.

“A lot of kids in my class had a front door key on a bit of string round our necks. You would let yourself in after school and make yourself a cup of tea because Mum wouldn’t be back from work until later in the evening.

“There was no telly. My family lived in two rooms and shared a bathroom with three or four other families.

“The way government policies are going, that’s coming back.

“However much they say we’re all in this together, they aren’t going to feel the pinch in the way that an OAP or a child or a single mum is. The poor aren’t poor because they’re lazy. Most poor people in this country are working and struggling just to get by.”

You can sponsor Gerry’s challenge by visiting https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/gerrymandering.

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