As a child I never noticed it, probably caught up in being ungrateful in the way a child can be, but it always felt like we were missing out.
In primary, my classmates had Sky TV, they went on holidays abroad, they had the latest trainers and they had the latest United football shirt (I'm not sure why that bothered me so much - I'm not a United fan). I wanted all of those things, I definitely remember feelings of resent towards my parents that I didn't get those things as well.
My parents worked so hard (one still does) to give us the life that we had, looking back now I can recognise how lucky we were (and still are). Like most parents, mine did everything that they could to make sure that their children had a better life than they did. Every waking moment, and I'm sure many sleepless nights, were devoted to ensuring that we had as many opportunities as possible in life. I remember vividly how my mum would react when I just couldn't get my times tables right, or if I made silly mistakes in my spellings tests.
As a child I would misinterpret these frustrations as anger.
As an adult I can see that there wasn't any anger, it was the frustrations of not being able to help a child as much as you wanted to.
Caring for me and my siblings became the sole purpose of my parent's every action - I have partial memories of a nine month period where we rarely saw my Dad, his company had sent him off to work on some project up North, but I'm not sure where. If we did see him, it was for little over 24 hours on some weekends, him arriving late on a Friday night after we'd gone to bed and having to leave early Sunday. It was confusing for a young child, but it must have been torturous for my parents.
The sacrifices they made have made a difference to our lives in a way that it would never be possible to repay in several life times.
My older sister is an Cambridge graduate - something that we would never have even contemplated, let alone dared to dream of. She nearly didn't go, after an open day and interview she insisted that it wasn't a place for people like us, 'they're all really posh".
I'm a teacher, something that was inspired by the teachers that I had at school. I originally hadn't wanted to even do A-Levels, my parents said that it was my choice. It was, but if I hadn't it would have crushed them. I'm so glad that I did - previously I'd enjoyed school, but A-Level taught me to love my subjects.
The point of all of this is that we were luckier than most. Yes, we went without lots of things, but the things we did have or did where far more plentiful than many others. It's only as an adult that I've really come to understand and appreciate that and I wouldn't even want to try to compare myself to how unfortunate some are.
My fortune was really brought home the other day, the Sutton Trust published an interactive tool which shows you University acceptance rates by area (link available here) where I grew up, in Croydon, they only saw 10 Oxbridge acceptances between 2015-17, 570 to Russell Group Universities and 4155 to HE institutions in total across the same time period. I'm going to try and uncover some historical figures from when I applied to University.
It's likely you've a pretty wrong impression about Croydon, normally along the lines of; "like the facelift", "Is it where Peep Show is filmed?" That's far from the true picture, there are huge areas of deprivation and huge areas of wealth (pretty much like anywhere). What these stats don't reveal is finer details, or what made me feel so lucky, the hyper-local details. I'm sure that for the postcodes surrounding where I grew up, there were very few who have gone on to post-18 education. It's because of this that I feel lucky, but not joyful.
This is not to say that University is for everyone, but more needs to be done to give those who want to the opportunity, without them also being burdened by debts and not being made to feel like it's not for them.