Sports Relief 2014: Spoilt Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing sent to live with struggling single parents on just £1 a day
The heir to the McVities fortune (right) is shocked when he is sent to stay with struggling single parents
OK, so the term “famous” is a loose one, here. We’re not talking Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Lawrence.
But Jamie Laing – the heir to the McVities fortune and a beneficiary of the minor level of celebrity that comes from starring in docu-soap Made In Chelsea – does enjoy a somewhat privileged lifestyle. One filled with parties and designer clothes and £3-pound smoothies and very little actual work.
However, for three days only, he gave that all up to star in a brand new show, Famous, Rich and Hungry; a two-part documentary series for Sports Relief, which starts on BBC One tonight.
In it, he ˗ alongside other ‘celebrities’ Cheryl Fergison, journalist Rachel Johnson and Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis ˗ is challenged to survive on just £3.15 for three days. That’s about one-and-a-half packs of McVities Chocolate Digestives, in case you were wondering.
After being ushered into a warehouse and stripped of his wallet, he was packed off to stay with struggling, single mother Carly and her three children in Croydon.
“I didn't have a clue how to spend my £3.15, so I gave it to her,” he wrote in his blog for Digital Spy.
“The thing that struck me straight away was just how strong Carly is, and how tough it is to be a single mum. Her life is so hard and her days are relentless. She has no choices.
Every morning she gets up at 6.30am and gets the kids to school, then does a million different things before collecting them, feeding them and putting them to bed. She rarely goes out - she just can't afford to.
“I on the other hand have the ability to choose. I have a great house in London that I share with two buddies. My typical day starts at 8am or 9am, with a trip to the gym. Then I'd go to my office, finish at 4pm, jump in a cab to see friends and go out for the evening. It's a total contrast to Carly's life.”
Laing goes on to describe accompanying Carly to the council to apply for food bank tokens. “I saw the strain that this had on Carly,” he noted. “It is so tough to have to ask for hand-outs and it is not something she wants to do."
He also described the average meal with the family.
“In the evening Carly would knock up a rice or pasta meal from whatever she had in the cupboard. I hadn't understood that eating healthily is really expensive. I never think about the price of food, but in her home every penny counts.”
After his stay with Carly, he was whisked off to a tower block on an estate in Sheffield to stay with Mohammed, who feeds himself and his children on a budget of just £3 a day.
“Mohammed regularly skips meals to ensure that his kids don't go without, often just eating one meal in the evening,” he wrote.
“One evening Mohammed cooked a delicious meal for us all with what little ingredients he had. I realised that he was a really good cook, and was I eager to find a way to help him and make sure the family had more food.
“Together we visited a couple of soup kitchens, and with a bit of encouragement Mohammed was able to get a volunteering job at one of them. By volunteering in the kitchen he will get a free lunch, which is a big step forward for someone that was previously existing on one meal a day. I felt so elated to have been able to help him in this way.
“Staying with Mohammed made me realise how lucky I am and how important family is. One evening I just had to call my mum to tell her how much I missed her and how much I valued everything she had done for me.”
He rounded off the blog by championing his own mother, a multi-millionaire, who raised Laing and his seven siblings, before concluding:
“While I'm dreaming of being the Willy Wonka of the world with my Candy Kitten sweets business, people like Carly and Mohammed are stuck in a very tough life with very few options, and I just hope that in some small way I may have helped.
“I know they have helped me see what is important in life.“
Famous, Rich and Hungry for Sport Relief will air on Wednesday 12 March and Thursday 13 March at 9pm on BBC One.
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