I’m from the South and I’m working class
Not everyone who’s poor lives Up North
Just because I sound posh doesn’t mean I am.
I wasn’t always working class, at one point my Mum had her own business and my Dad worked for Somerset County Council but that all changed when my Dad got sick, just before my 1st birthday.
Growing up I moved a lot and didn’t realise that my family was very different from anyone else’s in terms of wealth. We were different because we were home-schooled but not because we had less money.
It wasn’t until I started school at 13 that I realised it wasn’t normal to have parents that didn’t work. Not working wasn’t a choice for either of my parents, my Mum had to care for my Dad and four children. As I got older it became really obvious how frustrating it was for my Dad not being able to provide for his family.
But that’s why the welfare state was created, to help hardworking families like mine when they are in need.
My Mum became a full time carer and we had to live on benefits, I used to be ashamed until I realised that it doesn’t make me a bad person and it doesn’t make my family bad people either.
There’s a huge stigma surrounding those who are working class or on benefits and there shouldn’t be. Most families wouldn’t choose to be in that situation but sometimes bad stuff happens and we’re lucky that we have a welfare system to fall back on.
Being working class at a university that is known for its high percentage of private school students is hard, with jokes like “Crescent Peasant” being thrown around for those who choose to live in the cheapest halls it can be hard to admit that you couldn’t afford to live in Cheney.
I wasn’t sensible enough to do that though and ended up having to work nearly full time just so I could afford the price of halls and living in the most expensive city in the UK. And I’m not the only one at Brookes that is working class, 27.9 per cent of us are, not everyone will have had the same experiences as me but they will all face the same stigma. It’s OK to look poor, just not OK to be poor.
I’m lucky that through hard work and sheer determination I’ve managed to get my LLB and come back to study for my Masters in Law but not everyone will get the same opportunities.
The financial pressure at uni is tough and can lead to people dropping out.
Being working class means that having a part time job at uni isn’t a choice. It can be especially hard watching your middle class friends throwing away money on a bottle of Belvedere at MNB when you can barely even afford entry to the club that you’re too tired to go to anyway.
It’s not just parties and meals out with your friends that you miss out on either, all the time that you spend working means that you just don’t have time to get that internship to boost your CV and help you towards your dream job. You’re too busy trying to make sure you don’t miss that deadline because someone called in sick and your boss asked you to work.
Education should be for everyone, not just those with money. And if you do come to uni with money, don’t pretend to be skint when there are some of us who really don’t have enough money to go out.