“My customers are not just people I sell the mag to – they have become friends.”
How did you become homeless?
Well, I had a flat but I went working away with the army as a chef. And while I was away someone called the council and said I’d abandoned my flat, so when I came back I’d been evicted, even though I’d been paying the rent every week. The council said they couldn’t help me find another place because I’d made myself homeless and the money that I had ran out.
Where do you live now?
I live in a one bedroomed flat not far from my pitch. I’ve lived there for a while now. It is good to live somewhere where you can lock the door and relax.
What’s it like selling the mag?
I get a lot of satisfaction out of it. You get to know people and they get to know you. I talk to a lot of people when I’m out. There’s one bloke I know who has a difficult life, and he thanks me for talking to him because he’s lonely. I suppose I’m like the local social worker really.
You recently did a sponsored cycle ride. Tell us about that.
There’s a lady I see regularly who has a son with severe learning disabilities. I see her a lot and I know she doesn’t get a lot of help from elsewhere. So I cycled from Altrincham to Openshaw, which is about 13 miles. I always make that journey on a Wednesday anyway, because that’s where I volunteer. I’ve collected a lot of sponsors and I’m passing the money on to a local church to give to her. People worry about me and I think it’s only fair that I give something back.
Where do you volunteer?
I volunteer at the Salvation Army in Openshaw every week. I work in the shop, helping to keep it tidy and sorting through the donations that we have coming in. I enjoy it.
You seem to like helping people.
The thing with me is, I take time to ask about other people. There’s an elderly lady who got mugged about a month ago. Well, I got a big tip from a customer one day. He gave me a tenner and didn’t want any change. So with that money I bought her an attack alarm so that she would feel safer. I like helping people and seeing that they are happy.
What are your hopes for the future?
It’s not something I think about really. If I’m still doing this in five years time then I am. I might have to stand out in the cold sometimes, but by Friday I’ve got my rent paid and that’s the most important thing.
Have you got a message for your customers?
Thank you very much for all the support over the years. My customers are not just people that I sell the mag to – they are people who have become friends.
Interview: Christian Lisseman
In this audio extract of an interview with Dave, recorded in early July 2015, he talks about selling the mag, his customers, his volunteer work, homelessness and his hopes for the future.