Stephen,
Liverpool City Centre

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 Tell us a bit about yourself? 
I’m 35 years old and I’m originally from the West Midlands. I had a bit of trouble in Birmingham and so I came to Liverpool because I have family over here, although they had problems of their own and couldn’t really help me. I’m glad I made the move up here though. The people in Liverpool are absolutely brilliant.

 ‘Drink made me happy. Then it became tedious. Then a nightmare.’

Do you like selling the magazine? 
I’m a people person and I’d rather work outdoors, plus you are your own boss. And Big Issue North has been a great help to me. If you want help, it’s there. It’s not just a place to get and sell magazines and make money. They give you access to a lot of options. There’s not a lot of places like that. I can go to the office and use the computer there and ask for help off the staff. I feel safe there and I can speak to them.

Where are you living at the moment? 
I’m currently in Mildmay House, which is a hostel. They have been a great help to me as well. I was on the streets for a good few months when I first came to Liverpool.

How did you end up in this situation? 
It was drugs. I tried weed at the age of 11, and then I went on to the harder stuff. It ruins you. It ruins your life. And then my mum passed away and since then things have gone downhill. I’ve got myself sorted now though. I’m not on the class As anymore and I’m not drinking massive amounts like I used to.

Have you had any other jobs before? 
I used to work with racehorses, being a stable hand. I’ve done the dressage side and the foaling side. I used to have to sit up and watch when the mare was in foal and if there were complications when they were giving birth, I used to have to go in and help. It was hard work but I loved it and it was good money. The horses I was looking after were worth more than me and the place I was living in. I’d love to work with animals again, even voluntary. I don’t mind doing anything just to help animals.

What else do you hope for in the future? 
Just to get some normality really. I’d like to get my own property, which I hope to have soon. It would mean the world to me to have somewhere to live again. I’d like to see my daughter – she’s 11. And I have a stepson as well. I’d like to be sorted so they can come over and stay with me.

What makes you happy? 
At the moment I am happy because things are starting to come together. Back in the day, it was having drink and drugs. That’s what made me happy, then it became tedious, then it became a nightmare. I know now that life isn’t about taking drugs and drinking beer as soon as you wake up and living in hostels and things like that.

Do you have a message for your customers? 
Keep on buying it. You do help people.

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