Four vendors appear on The Big Issue in the North Trust Christmas Card this year. Sally from Manchester is joined by Gavin from Sheffield, Jorge from Manchester and Daniel from Liverpool.
Here are the stories of the vendors on the card.
I got pregnant not long after I finished my degree, I did history and sociology here in Manchester. When I first had my daughter I moved in with my partner at the time, but he became violent and things got really unstable. I started drinking heavily, eventually ended up homeless and my little girl was sent to live with my dad.
I was staying in a hostel when other people told me about The Big Issue in the North and I’ve been selling it here in Manchester on and off for about three years now. It’s been hard because I was still drinking for a long time; all the money I made from the mags went straight to booze and I kept getting suspended for my behaviour.
I suffer quite badly with depression and I think without The Big Issue in the North I’d just be sitting at home. Coming out to sell the mags gives me some structure and stability and I get to talk to lots of different people. Even on a terrible day when things aren’t going well and people aren’t buying magazines, I’m definitely a lot happier than I would be without it.
I’m sober now and even though where I’m living is temporary, it’s more stable than I’ve been in a long time. Selling the magazine going to help me have my first proper Christmas with my daughter and I’m hoping she’ll be able to stay the night, it’s massively important to me. I’ve already got her a few little presents and I’m going to save for some more. Christmas is definitely the next step.
After Christmas I want to be able to move nearer to where she lives, she goes to a good school and I wouldn’t want her to move. It’s going to be difficult, finding a new place. I’d eventually like to move into other work, I haven’t worked except for selling the magazine for ten years so that’s another big thing, but I know staff in the Big Issue in the North office will do me a reference and help me look for work or training. I’d like to go into teaching or being a teaching assistant but that’s a long way off.
Jorge is 48 and is currently living in a hostel near Manchester. Originally from Portugal, Jorge has lived and worked in London in the past but moved up to Manchester in June in order to be near his sister who was having an operation. A trained head waiter by profession, Jorge has struggled to find work in the area and so has also found it hard to get somewhere to live.
He’s been selling The Big Issue in the North for a month or so now. He started selling when he heard about the magazine from someone and, although he says it’s not easy, he enjoys selling the magazine and recognises that “At least selling the magazine is doing something.”
“Selling the magazine does mean I can earn some extra money,” says Jorge, “though you never know how much you are going to earn. This morning I was on pitch by eight in the morning. By midday I had only sold two magazines, but then an hour later I had sold another four. You just don’t know how it’s going to go.”
Jorge says he has “no idea” about the future but he says that he feels like he “getting somewhere bit by bit and step by step. And the people in The Big Issue in the North office are really good to me. It’s not easy selling the magazine but they treat me with respect in the office.”
“As for Christmas,” says Jorge, “I suppose I’ll just be out selling the magazine.”
And Jorge’s Christmas Wish? “A good job would be nice and to be able to spend some time with family and friends.”
Daniel is originally from Romania. He came to England to, in his own words, “find hope” and he’s currently living in temporary accommodation and selling the magazine in Liverpool. When he first came to England he moved first to London and slept rough for awhile – which he found hard and dangerous. “I came to Liverpool because in London it’s dangerous – dangerous for me and everyone,” says Daniel. “Up here it’s more friendly and safer.”
Daniel, who is 30, lived with this grandmother in Romania but life was very hard there. He came to England to find a better life. “In Romania there was nothing and everyone needs something,” he says. “I came to England to find stability in my life, I want to find something in my life. Selling the magazine is good for me because I learn to be nice with the people and I learn something and meet people everyday.”
His Christmas wish? “I don’t want money – I don’t want to be rich – I don’t want nothing – only somebody – I want to find somebody – I want to share with someone the life and life is a journey and I must live now and not later – and this is me for the moment.”
Gavin sells The Big Issue in the North outside John Lewis in Sheffield. He’s been selling the magazine for three years or so.
Originally from Rotherham, Gavin says he had a “hard upbringing,” but says he has just had to get on with it. He became homeless when he split up with his partner and he’s currently sleeping rough in the city. He admits that sleeping out can be hard, especially during the cold and wet weather but he gets a lot of support from people around him. Christmas can also be a hard time he admits. “I just have to carry on with me life,” he says. “Life goes on. Hopefully I’ll go to a place where they do Christmas dinner, a shower and stuff on Christmas Day.”
Gavin says selling the magazine has made his life better. “I’m standing on my own two feet,” he says, “everyday I can buy food and cups of tea. I want to do something with my life, that’s why I choose to sell The Big Issue in the North.”
And Gavin’s Christmas wish: “I’d just like to change my life from the beginning again and avoid the mistakes in the past which I made.”