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Exclusive: Jamie Laing is Famous, Rich and Hungry for Sport Relief

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Famous, Rich and Hungry for Sport Relief starts tonight on BBC One - in the new two-part documentary series, four well-known personalities put their famous lives on hold to experience what it is really like for people in Britain who often can't afford to eat.

Made in Chelsea star Jamie Laing - @jamielaing_UK - took part alongside actress Cheryl Fergison, journalist Rachel Johnson and Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis and has blogged about the emotional experience exclusively for Digital Spy.

Jamie Laing in 'Famous, Rich and Hungry for Sport Relief'

© BBC


Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage begin Wembley Sport Relief challenge

I consider myself lucky to have led a very privileged life. I love having fun and I want to be very successful. I don't have to worry about money.

I wanted a reality check, so I took part in a documentary called Famous, Rich and Hungry for Sport Relief. I was one of four celebrities who spent a week living with UK families who are struggling to put food on the table.

To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, no idea that the week ahead would be such an emotional rollercoaster.

At the start of filming, me and the other celebrities involved (Theo Paphitis, Rachel Johnson and Cheryl Fergison) were given a briefing in a warehouse in central London. At that point I was asked to handover my wallet and was told how much I would have to spend on food during my three-day stay with my host family.

I was deeply shocked by how little I was given, just £3.15 for three days - roughly the amount my host would have to spend on food. I would buy a smoothie for that amount without even blinking.

For the first half of my week, I stayed with single mum Carly and her three children, aged eight, six and one, in their house in Croydon, south London. I didn't have a clue how to spend my £3.15, so I gave it to her.

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.

Each day I helped Carly with the school run and shopping. Whilst I was staying with her there was so little money available that we had to go to the council to apply for food bank tokens. I saw the strain that this had on Carly - it is so tough to have to ask for hand-outs and it is not something she wants to do.

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.

I'm a pretty energetic guy and would normally stay up until 2am, but after reading the kids a bedtime story I was so exhausted I was falling asleep at 9.30pm. But as much as there is hardship and tough times, when her daughter Jessica comes home beaming from school with a certificate for French, it makes it all worthwhile.

I got quite emotional one evening with Carly's three children sitting next to me on the sofa. I had seen her doing all these things for her family, things my mum has done for me but I haven't really appreciated, and it made me understand just how unconditional a mother's love is.

Jamie Laing in 'Famous, Rich and Hungry for Sport Relief'

© BBC


Although Carly's worn down with the relentless daily grind, she wants to improve life for her family and is training to be a qualified personal bodyguard so she can get a job. Before I left, I wrote her and the kids a letter about how much I had enjoyed meeting them and how much the experience had meant to me.

During the next three days I stayed with Mohammed, a single dad, and his two sons, aged eight and two. They live in a tower block on an estate in Sheffield – before this experience I had never been to an estate. Mohammed's a great dad and adores his kids. Somehow the whole family manages to survive on a food 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.

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.

What I realised was, through all the crap times, the most important thing is your family. It's always there for you. My time with them made me see that I have taken my family, especially my mum, for granted. I'm one of eight kids. She's always been there for me.

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 be broadcast on Wednesday, March 12 and Thursday, March 13 at 9pm on BBC One.

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