There was a programme on BBC Three tonight that intrigued me. “Growing up poor” seemed to strike a chord with me, thinking it would be along the same lines as my budgeted student life.
However, I quickly realised I know nothing of the situations that were featured in the programme. All three girls were younger than me yet had faced struggles that I can’t imagine. It made my existence seem wealthy. And it made me think about things that I never realised I was grateful for.
1) My qualifications
I’m lucky that I enjoyed school. I like learning and when it came to crunch time, I did get my head down and get my grades. They are not spectacular, but they are something that I will hold forever. I have big ambitions, but in any case, I have the means to provide for myself by getting any job possible.
2) My work experience
Without my GCSEs, I wouldn’t have got my first job in Sainsbury’s at 17. I don’t like people who turn their nose up at working at a supermarket. A large, established company is a great place to get a foot in the door and earn decent money. Through working my weekly shifts at the supermarket, I saved money ready for Uni. Without that starting point, I wouldn’t have gathered enough for my CV to be able to work at Cath Kidston. I now work in the prettiest shop in the high street, thanks to doing time stacking shelves.
3) My large collection of possessions
In the programme, it was a highlight for one of the girls to finally be getting an oven. I use the oven/fridge/microwave/sink everyday without even pausing to think about it. I have an overflowing bookshelf. I have a wardrobe full of clothes. I have two different sets of sheets. I have a drawer filled with lovely notebooks. I have the opportunity to choose what kind of hair products I used because I have the money to do that. It seems so insignificant, but it’s something others don’t have.
I do now feel incredibly lucky to live the lifestyle I do. I work hard, but at least there is the glow of a positive outlook pushing me on. One thing I didn’t understand is why young girls are still getting pregnant. Protection is overly available and the lack of responsibility is overwhelming. But this aside, I still think all three girls are incredibly brave for keeping their heads high during such tumultuous times. This programme is airing at such a key time, with the benefits system a hotly debated topic. I think the documentary makers have done a brilliant job about why our benefits system should be applauded, not condoned.