It’s been over a year since we last spoke, Hughie. How are things?*
It’s been a bad year, to be honest. I’ve had some family problems and I’ve been trying to find other work but not having any luck.
“I really hope I can get my kids back. It would mean the world to me.”
Tell us about your children.
I’ve got two lads. One has just turned 13 and the other is 14. They were taken off my ex-partner and put into foster care recently. It’s been terrible. I’m really hoping that I can get custody of them but I need to get the house sorted first.
What needs to happen to the house?
I’ve been told I need to redecorate it and get some new furniture. I couldn’t afford any of that but I’ve just got a hardship grant to buy some paint and I’ve just heard that Emmaus [a charity supporting formerly homeless people and operating second-hand shops around the UK] is going to give me a single bed. I really need that bed for one of my lads. So if that happens it will be brilliant.
And you’re still selling the magazine?
I am, but I’m really hoping to find other work. I’ve been selling Big Issue North for seven years now and it’s time to move on. I was supposed to start work at a sausage factory but the job has fallen through. I’m gutted. I’ve been sending my CV out for two years trying to find a different job but no one ever gets back to me.
What has selling the magazine done for you?
I was in a hole before I started doing this. My ex-partner had had an affair and I’d lost everything. I was ready to commit suicide. Then I found out about the magazine and I started selling it. It’s helped me through some hard times and I’ve also met some cracking people while I’ve been doing it. When I do finally stop selling it I will miss the people, but I think it’s time to try something new.
Last time you spoke a lot about your dog, Dave. How is he?
He’s great. He’s eight years old now and he’s still my best friend. He’s waiting for the kids to come home because he’s really missed them.
What makes you happy?
My kids, my dog and my brother. My brother is 61. He’s 13 years older than me and he’s always looked out for me.
What makes you sad?
Now. But there’s always hope.
What are your hopes for the future?
I really hope I can get my kids back. It would mean the world to me. And I’m going to bend over backwards when I do finally get a new job. I want to prove to people that I’ve still got loads to give.
Interview: Christian Lisseman