How long did you sell Big Issue North for?
Approximately three years – longer than I would have liked, but it’s helped me fantastically. I started selling the magazine because I didn’t have much choice, I had nowhere to go. And the thing with Big Issue North is you can take things into your own hands, rather than waiting for someone to do it for you.
‘I used to go without food, without electric, for my son.’
How did you first become homeless?
I’ve been homeless a couple of times, both because of relationship failures. I had a family, three kids and a job as a team leader for a landscape gardening company. One day my partner said: “I don’t think we’re compatible.” To be honest, I’m still not over it now. I met someone else after that, and had a son with her. We were both homeless at the time, but we managed to get somewhere to live two weeks before she was due to give birth. A year or so after my son was born, she met someone else. Just when you think it can’t happen again, it does.
Where did you stay when you were homeless?
I spent time in different hostels, but they are difficult places to stay. You are exposed to people drinking and taking drugs, and it’s easy to get pulled into that because when you are hanging around bored, you feel worthless. They’re not bad people there. Nobody ever forced me to take anything. They thought they were helping me, because it’s a way to escape normality when you are homeless.
How did your new job come about?
I had a meeting with someone from Big Issue North and told them I wanted to find other work. The Big Issue North Trust charity paid for me to get a replacement driving licence, because I’d lost this when I’d become homeless. After that, I was looking for work day in and day out and eventually saw this job and applied for it, thinking if you don’t apply, you don’t get.
What is your new job?
It’s a driving job, delivery and collection of hire vehicles. There’ll be a lot of travelling, which is great.
What’s the best thing about getting a new job?
I’ll get to see my youngest son more. Spending time with him makes me happy. He is my every breath. And I’ll have more money when he comes to visit. I used to go without food, without electric, without anything so I could do what I could for him. I used to take him swimming, and I used to struggle to afford to do that. Now I’ll be able to do more things with him, like take him to the seaside and all kinds of places. Everything is going to be so much better. It’s going to feel amazing.
Do you have a message for the people who used to buy the magazine from you?
I’d like to thank everyone who kept supporting me no matter what. I relied on them to give me a smile and to see that somebody believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Without their support, their kind words and the self-confidence they helped me get back, I would never have got this job.