To understand some of the difficulties Afghan refugees will have to go through after landing in England, I decided to put myself in their shoes.
I went to a supermarket to try and do a full shop on a refugee’s weekly budget of £39.63 at Lidl.
Refugees have been getting off the plane from Afghanistan with only the clothes on their backs, so as well as food, it was clear I had to leave some of the budget to buy essentials that can’t be eaten.
My game plan was to start cheap and stay cheap, buying the lowest cost items of every essential that I believed someone would need for a week of living.
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The first cost I didn’t expect was the trolley, I know you get the money back but you can’t spend that pound if it’s stuck. A basket it was.
I wanted to get the staple ingredients for a balanced diet: Bread, eggs, milk etc, and also try and make sure I had enough vegetables for my 5-a-day.
I naively entered the task thinking this would be easy. By the time I had got enough fresh produce I was already £8.19 down.
The cost included peppers, carrots, bananas, grapes, onions and salad.
After securing the fruit and veg I sorted Breakfast. Cereal and Milk, plus bread. The bread would also be included in Lunch.
I then had to buy butter for the bread, coffee and sugar, plus some eggs and a small yoghurt.
(Image: Finn Byrne)
A few of the items could be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner, such as the eggs.
Breakfast hit me at £7.12. My total was now at £15.31. I was nearly halfway through my budget already and I hadn’t got any toiletries or covered lunch and dinner.
I wondered at this point whether I wasn’t being thrifty enough with the foods I was purchasing.
The thriftiest decision I made was to avoid spending on meat. One look at the meat section and I could already feel a hole burning through my pockets.
Buying three or four meat items could have easily seen my budget explode – My shop would have to be mostly vegetarian.
I brought a small pack of mince, £2.15, and left all the rest alone.
Lunch was cheap and I chose some cheese slices to stick in a sandwich.
(Image: Finn Byrne)
I brought a big multipack of crisps and would use the banana and grapes, picked earlier, so I could create my own meal deal.
The multipack and cheese slices came to £3.79, pushing me up to £19.10 spent at Lidl.
I thought I was starting to get somewhere but then reminded myself I needed to leave some money left over.
Many refugees are arriving with only their clothes on their backs so would need money for clothing and calls abroad etc.
I quickly sorted dinner with pasta, rice, some potatoes, pasta sauce and a pack of biscuits. I was creating a common carb, meat, vegetable set up on my plate.
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Due to restrictions in the budget, it looked as if I was going to have the money for two of those.
The carbs I added for dinner were cheap and only cost £2.76 altogether. I now had £17.77 to spend.
Household basics took me to £14.89. This included toilet paper, toothpaste, shower gel, detergent, washing up liquid and a few other cleaning products. I then left the shop.
I had spent £36.75. I had £2.88 left and had a shop that was disappointing and it was most likely that I would run out of food before the end of the week.
The household essentials are a rare buy and wouldn’t be there in every week’s shop. Even then, I would still be left with a pitiful amount of money to provide for everyday expenses.
I wouldn’t have the money for clothes and would definitely have to rely on charity to be able to find anything suitable for a British winter.
The shop was challenging, with all the other problems refugees have to deal with it is hard to see how this amount of money can be acceptable.
It can’t lead to having any proper standard of living.
What I bought:
Warburtons white £1.10
Tomato family £1.69
5 bananas £0.75
Ready meal £1.50
Cheese slices £1.29
Body wash £0.99
Toilet paper £1.93
Washing powder £2.99
Washing liquid £1.99