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How long have you been a Big Issue North vendor?
I was a vendor two years ago but I just came back to doing it a few weeks back. They’re good people in the office – they help us, we have talks and they try to help me out. We have a laugh as well. That’s good. It was good to know I could always come back if I needed to.

“I’m trying to move forward and sort my life out.”

How long have you been homeless?
I’ve been on and off the streets for about 40 years, which isn’t good. I had family issues so I did what I had to. I used to be a really bad drinker. I met a lass and we were together for 15 years. One day I found out she was cheating on me. I wanted to make it work but wanted her to stop seeing other people. After a while I had enough and said: “If you carry on you might as well take my name off the house.” I thought that would put an end to it but the next day she went straight to the council and took me off the lease. I ended up back on the streets and I’ve never seen her since. After we broke up my drinking got really bad, but one day I realised I needed to slow down. I don’t drink now and I don’t do drugs. I’ve not had a sniff of drink for over a month and I’ve always got some money.

Where do you live now?
I’m in a hostel at the moment, which is all right. I’ve been there for about a month and they’ve organised an appointment with the council to try and get my own place.

What kind of place would you like to live in?
I’d really like a flat – not a bedsit though. You get a lot of trouble in bedsits with private landlords, noise, bad buildings, all kinds of trouble. I just want a bit of space.

What’s it like selling the magazine?
It gives me something to do, pass the time and clear my head. It’s good to be out doing something constructive. I enjoy doing it. If I do bad one day I promise to do better the next. Sometimes you get snotty looks but I just brush that off. You get the odd smile and people stop and talk to you, and that’s great.

What are your hopes for the future?
I’m trying to move forward and sort my life out. I’ve worked in factories, production lines but I don’t see myself getting a proper job again – not at my age, almost 60. The mag is all I have.

Interview: Genevieve Waite

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