How long have you been selling Big Issue North for?
I’ve been selling the magazine for about ten years on and off. I was homeless when I started. I was living in a hostel and there
was a lad who worked in there and he said that he could get me badged up to sell the magazine so I could make a bit of money. He got me started on it.
“I feel better after a workout – it’s good to have goals for the future.”
Do you enjoy it?
I like it. I’ve got a few regular customers. I’m from Doncaster and I know quite a few people round here. I meet all sorts of people from all walks of life who buy the magazine. That’s what makes me come to town really, to have a chat with people.
How did you become homeless?
I was living with my dad and my brothers but there were some family problems, which meant I ended up in that hostel. I’m living in a little flat now and I’m doing it up, a bit of decorating. I’ve had the place for a year now. There were a few ups and downs at first with the rent, but I got it sorted and it’s settled down now. That’s why this helps, selling the magazine – it helps pay the bills.
Are your family still around?
I had two brothers but one passed away a couple of years ago. My dad passed away last year as well. It’s been a rough couple of years. My parents split up when we were younger and we were brought up by my dad. He always made sure that we had stuff. I miss him. He was a good friend, not just a father. My other brother and I get on though. He also sells Big Issue North in Doncaster.
What are your hopes for the future?
I’ve had a few health problems recently but I feel a lot healthier now. I’m hoping to get a gym pass soon. I like going to the gym, you feel better after a workout and it’s good to have an aim, goals for the future. I’d like to try and get a permanent job and settle down one day, maybe get a family of my own. It’s never too late.
Have you had other jobs?
When I left school I worked down the pits. I finished just before the strikes in 1984, so that was quite a while ago. I’ve also worked in factories and on building sites, things like that. I liked working down the pits. It was a really good job. There were a lot of pits around here. It hit everyone hard at the time, when they closed, but you have to go with the times, don’t you? It’s all about looking after the earth and I suppose it’s old fashioned now, using coal to get electricity.
What makes you happy?
Just life, I suppose. As long as everything is going OK.
What makes you sad?
All the sadness that’s in the world. Like Syria, those people who have been displaced from where they live. They’ve got nothing. That’s why I feel fortunate, you know? We’re lucky to live in a country like we do.
Interview: Christian Lisseman