“There you go, ‘ave a pint on me,” offered the customer, happily slipping a fiver into my hand after she’d finished unpacking her shopping. She’d suddenly adopted a Dick van Dykeesque cockney accent, which I don’t think was the norm, given her gentrified south London pad. A very generous gesture nonetheless and I enjoyed my resulting Frappuccino immensely! A couple of days later, in a similar part of town, another customer flung the door open and, without a hint of acknowledgment of my presence, loudly bemoaned her substitute items where the overnight team (salary circa £11hr per hour) had had the audacity to substitute an avocado for a pear. My response was to apologise profusely, in my best Surrey accent, and discuss whether interest rates would need to be raised to combat rising inflation. The look of confusion on her face made my day.
I’ll be honest, the majority of people I meet when I deliver their groceries are great- very friendly and respectful and happy to have a chat. At the supermarket depot, I work with many retired people, business owners, ex policemen etc- a real diverse mix. However, to some, the job you do is enough to pigeonhole you to a social class; maybe even to a set of hobbies, view on life or maybe a political persuasion.
It’s been a real eye opener. I’d never had to think about these things before being a white, middle- class man from the home counties. On the other hand, my Grandad had done the hard lifting- benefitting enormously from social mobility. Born into poverty in Bermondsey, a representative from the Old Bailey had asked if there were any working-class boys with some talent that they could train up. Before too long, he’d graduated to clerk of the court and sat in on some of the most famous cases of the 20th century.
That opportunity, his hard work and the comfortable lifestyle it gave our family, opened the door to a world of opportunities both then and now. I did very little at school but sort of knew it would still be ok and it was. I eventually graduated and forged myself a good career, that has seen me live and work all over the world. In Dubai, with both of us working long hours, we eventually employed a domestic helper from the Philippines. Karen, a 20 something single mother, who was hard working, intelligent and kind. Who is to say what opportunities she would have had if she was born into English suburbia?
Thankfully we seem to be moving towards a world where the colour of your skin, gender, your social orientation or where you are from, matters less than the person you are. But we have more to do, and my experiences have reminded me to keep treating people the same no matter what the circumstances that you meet them in or how they dress.
The equality trust Social Mobility and Education | The Equality Trust states that “there is a very strong relationship between high levels of income inequality and low levels of social mobility. Children of highly paid individuals are more likely to be highly paid and children of low paid individuals are more likely to be low earners.”
At Golden Brain Academy we are passionate about social mobility and believe that every child should be given the opportunity to fulfil their academic potential.
We commit to:
Enrol one child per class free of charge, for those who may not be able to afford it otherwise
Continue to allow parents in group classes the ability to have a payment holiday if their financial circumstances change.
Charge no more than £10 per session for primary maths and English in our group classes
Make available more free lessons and resources through our website and social media
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org