A series produced
by Big Issue North
Welcome to The Anon Podcast, produced by Big Issue North. Anon puts the spotlight on real people in the North, whose stories, if told at all, are rarely told well by the mainstream media. From asylum seekers to disabled people or people living on the streets, our podcast gives a voice and an identity to those who had previously been anonymous.
Darren’s story is extraordinary, yet typical. It started with a childhood spent in and out of the care system, and moved onto living on the streets of Liverpool, using hard drugs and almost dying. But that’s not how it finished – as he tells Anon. During this episode of the Anon Podcast, Darren speaks to Karen, who has also experienced domestic abuse, struggles with alcohol and street homelessness – and has managed to come through it all. Darren and Karen’s story is both shocking and hopeful. It will open your eyes to what life is like for people facing addiction and homelessness, and how their life can turn around with a little support.
Tala is just eight years old, but she’s experienced more than many people do in a lifetime. Born in Aleppo, Syria, just before civil war took hold, her early childhood was one of bombs and fear. When the situation in Syria became critical, like many others, Tala and her family took refuge in the UK, and wound up in Manchester. Alongside Mostafa, her father, Tala tells her story to Anon, and reveals the reality of life in a new country from a child’s eyes – and how she’s creating a brighter future for herself. Shocking, funny and heart-warming, Tala’s story is at once unique, and yet has themes and moments that anyone from anywhere can relate to.
Hayden and Darren are father and son. Between them, they’ve experienced life in working-class Manchester over the last five decades, through music, using and dealing drugs to make ends meet, the inevitable brushes with the criminal justice system, and gradual change and redemption. As they share their story, Hayden tells Anon how a desire to rebuild his family – and give a different life for his grandson – has helped him turn his life around, while Darren talks about his relationship with an absent father, following in Hayden’s footsteps, and the ongoing battle to put the past behind him.
Malcolm Jones is a double amputee from Rochdale. Having lost his first leg in 2001, it would be easy for Malcolm to feel like a victim, and like his operations took away his freedom, and even part of his life. But that’s not the approach that Malcolm has taken, as he tells Anon, instead, he’s seen the positive in his life and encourages other people with disabilities to do the same.
Ramona Constantin arrived in the UK from Romania in 2007. Since then, she has experienced life as a Big Issue North seller, seen the prejudice and hate that comes with being an immigrant, raised a family, and delivered projects within Roma communities in Manchester to aid integration. We caught up with Ramona in the summer of 2017 to talk about her journey, her progress, and the bombshell that came with the Brexit vote.
On the cover: Turkish-born writer and political scientist Elif ShafakFind a vendor What's in the latest issue?