Michael,
Liverpool One

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m adopted and I was brought up on a farm in Cumbria. I did six years in the army and I was based in Northern Ireland and in Bosnia. Knowing what I know now I wish I had put more time in there really, seeing that so many people are chasing every job.

What led you to be homeless?
After I finished in the army, I spent a few years in Canada with my wife and two children. But the marriage failed and I came back to this country. I was in a bad state of mind and I ended up rough sleeping. I went all over, looking for work. I spent a bit of time in Leeds, then went down south because I knew it would be warmer. I actually meet a lot of people from the north and from Scotland who go south to sleep rough.

‘Things are arranged so that if you are a have-not, you remain one’

Why do you sell Big Issue North?
I’ve sold The Big Issue in Cambridge and in London before. One of the reasons I started selling is that boredom is a terrible thing. If you are just sat looking into space then that’s not good for your mental health. I came to Liverpool hoping to use my CSCS card to find construction work but I couldn’t get hired. I had a job in a factory, but they were asking the impossible – trying to squeeze the workforce to do too much and I ended up walking out. I also stopped going to the Job Centre because I felt it was a waste of time. I was getting sanctioned even though I was looking for work. I felt if I retuned to selling the magazine it would give me back some control over my life.

Have you ever tried to find your biological parents?
I have tracked down my biological parents but I have never made contact with them. I know where my mum is, but I don’t want her to think that the only reason I want to get in touch with her is because I have fallen on hard times. I don’t want her to be ashamed of me. I’ll get in touch with her when I have moved on in life a bit.

What makes you happy?
Feeling healthy and having plans for the future. I’m interested in getting a smallholding and ideally running a small café somewhere.

What makes you sad?
Things being arranged so that if you are a have-not, you remain one. There is no social mobility in this country. People like myself can’t start up small businesses because we don’t have the investment, whereas people with the property portfolios and the money, they can do what they want. There is a clique at the top who have such a stranglehold over the economy – we need a way of helping people at the bottom. It also feels like the powers that be are chasing after the little people, but the people who run big companies have crafty arrangements not to pay their share of tax. I think some people in this country are totally disillusioned because of the way they are treated. Young people have the positivity and self-confidence crushed out of them. We need to invest in our society to make it better for everyone.

What have you learnt in life?
If you want to make things better, you’ve got to keep hold of a positive frame of mind. And if we don’t have power to change things on our own you should speak to people who do have the power to try and change things.

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