Why did you start selling Big Issue North?
Well, I started using drugs in the mid-nineties, things like cannabis. Then I moved on to harder drugs. My parents showed me some tough love and booted me out. Which, in a way, well, that had to be done. The next thing I know I’m homeless and selling the magazine. I got my life sorted out, then got a girlfriend and a different job. But then things went wrong again. I ended up back on streets and selling the mag again and I’ve been selling it now for about five years.
What caused things to go wrong again?
All it took was one bad day to get me started again. I’m one of those with an addictive personality, so I’m told. I never thought my life would turn out like this. I had a great upbringing. It was a mistake getting into drugs and that – a mistake anyone can make. My advice to any kid now thinking of using drugs is, and I know it’s corny, but just try to say no. Stick to what you know. If my story stops anyone else falling into that trap of using hard drugs, then it’s all good, isn’t it.
How’s life now?
I’m doing all right. I’m in a shared house at the moment. I’m on a [methadone] script and trying to stick to that. I’m not saying everything is all rosy, but we’ll get there in the end hopefully. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
What has Big Issue North done for you?
It’s been brilliant for me. Vendors get great support from the staff in the office and selling the magazine gives me a meaning in life. For a lot of people, Big Issue North is a lifesaver. It amazes me that some people still don’t know how Big Issue North works. I had a lady the other week who just took a magazine from me and walked off! I said: “Do you really think I’m standing out here for free?” Another one went: “I bet this is a boring job.” And I said: “Oh no, this is far from boring. You don’t know who you are going to meet.” The people in Sheffield are fantastic. I have a laugh with them.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like watching football and talking about football. I used to play Saturday and Sunday league but I can’t play anymore. But I won’t tell you who my team is though in case it puts some customers off!
What’s this year been like?
It’s been bit bad. I had a good pitch in Sheffield outside Waitrose. I’d been there for around five years. But then they decided they didn’t want a vendor outside. I had loads of support from the public though. There was a petition and everything. And I want to say thank you to those people who supported me.
What are you doing for Christmas?
I’m going to mum’s in Lincolnshire. I’ve got a good relationship with her and speak to her every day.
Photo and video by Jason Lock