How was 2016?
The last year wasn’t great. My partner broke her hip at the end of 2015 and then just after that her flat flooded when the River Irwell burst its banks, and that was the start of lots of problems. I caught a bad skin infection, which I think was due to the floodwater in the flat, and that meant I was unable to work for a lot of the year. And then in May I got a letter from my landlady terminating my tenancy. I thought I’d end up on the streets again and that obviously put more strain on me. The last year was so bad that there was one time I thought about committing suicide. I suppose you could say my cogs burnt out.
“I found a house in Bolton through
another Big Issue North vendor.”
How did you get through it?
Big Issue North has been a really big help through all of this. They have given me support, taken the pressure off me and allowed me to keep my pitch through the rough times when I couldn’t work. If I had lost my pitch it would have been a total disaster. Selling the magazine has been important because it has taken my mind off the other problems that have been going on.
Where are you living now?
I found a house in Bolton through another Big Issue North vendor, Alan in Prestwich. He put me in touch with this landlord who gave me this house with no deposit and just a month’s rent in advance. I’d like to say a big thank you to Alan for that.
What is Christmas like for you?
I don’t really celebrate Christmas. It’s a hard time of year and I have bad memories of it. I felt neglected by my parents and I was sexually abused as well.
Are you OK to talk about that?
I would prefer to talk about it, even though it is hard. I’m beginning to accept that I can’t stop the abuse that happened all those years ago. I ran away when I was a kid, and I kept running away, to try and escape the abuse, but I couldn’t tell anyone that I had been raped. This is why I became an alcoholic and ended up homeless, and I think this is why Christmas is the worst time of the year for me.
What are your hopes for 2017?
I am looking forward to it. My finances are looking a lot healthier because I have managed to secure a Co-op Cashminder bank account. I won’t be able to get into overdrafts and they will set up all the standing orders for me so my rent and bills get paid. That will help me manage my money. I turn 60 in 2018 and I’m looking forward to putting the past behind me and to the next 10 years of my life. I want to set up a second-hand book business and am looking for premises to rent for this. I want to sell second-hand books and then donate some of the profits to local charities. And one day I want to buy a caravan to rent out to families on low incomes and then eventually retire to.
Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you to everyone who supported me, you have helped me to carry on.