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How long have you been selling Big Issue North for?
I’ve been doing it for a long time now. I started because I was in a bed and breakfast and one of my friends got me in touch with it. That was when I was 18. I’m 34 now.

“Some people look down on vendors but my customers are sound.”

How did you end up in a bed and breakfast?
My mum and dad split up and she got a new boyfriend. We didn’t get on, so I had to leave that house. I became homeless and the council put me in the B&B. It was a bit scary being there. I didn’t know what I was getting into and I was that skint. I then had a flat but I couldn’t cope with it. I’ve got dyslexia and dyspraxia so I found it difficult to live on my own. I couldn’t fend for myself, with budgeting for bills and that. The council was supposed to help me but never did.

Where do you live now?
I was living back with my mum but I had to move out a few days ago. The council said I couldn’t stay there any more because it’s a one bedroom flat and it’s for my mum. So they kicked me out. I’m here, there and everywhere now – wherever I can get. I’m stopping on a settee at a friend’s house at the moment but it’s only temporary. I got in touch with the council and they put me in touch with an agency so we’ll see what happens with that.

Why have you sold the magazine for so long?
It’s something to live on. It’s an income. Selling is all right. It gets me day-to-day things. I enjoy it. I like talking to people and I like working. I’ve been on this pitch in Southey for about six months. Some people look down on vendors – think they are scum and that. But my customers are sound. They don’t put their nose up at you, or have a go at you. And they really support me, especially after I got stabbed.

When were you stabbed?
A few weeks ago, after selling the magazine. I was walking back towards my mum’s through the woods when these two lads jumped out on me, stabbed me in the arm and took £30 off me.

What happened then?
Well, I want to thank a couple of ladies who helped me when I got stabbed. They were just down the road. One of them saw it happen and she phoned an ambulance and the other went and got towels and stopped me bleeding. If they weren’t there I don’t know what would have happened.

What do you do in your spare time?
Not much. I watch films at my mate’s house. I like rap music. I just watched The Notorious BIG about this rapper who got shot.

What do you hope the future will be like?
Better than it is now. I’d like somewhere to live. To be able to focus and look after my flat this time. Be able to do everything right, so I am able to keep it and not lose it.

Interview: Christian Lisseman

Interact: Responses to Gary, Southey, Sheffield

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