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Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m 54 years old. I used to sell Big Issue North in Leeds but now I sell the magazine here in Prestwich. I live in Ancoats.

“Thank you so much for the support from all my customers.”

What was your childhood like?
I was born in Scotland but we moved to Leeds when I was about three. I grew up in an area called Little London but when I was 15 my dad kicked me out and I was homeless. He was a dead nasty man. It was a hard start and I’ve always struggled to get my life together after that. I moved around a lot but I’m in a flat now and I’ve been there for 17 years.

Why do you sell the magazine?
I sell Big Issue North because the staff are very caring and helpful. There are other ways to earn money but I suffer from depression at the moment and so I can only work a certain number of hours. Selling the magazine helps with my depression because it gets me out meeting and talking to people. I’ve had depression for a number of years but for the last two months it’s been particularly bad because my girlfriend died in March this year. We lived together for the last year and I miss her. We were supposed to get married in July. She was always there for me.

Are you getting support for your depression?
I’m on tablets from the doctor for it. He also put me into this place – I can’t remember what it was called – but the last cigarette you could have was before 11 at night and the first one you could have in the morning was at 8am because the staff are in bed between those times. That was no good for me because I’m a heavy smoker, always have been since I was 14, and so that place made me feel worse.

Have you done any other work in the past?
I used to do painting and decorating with Leeds City Council. When I get out of this depression, I’d like to be a freelance painter and decorator.

What do you do in your spare time?
I read a lot. And I go out on long walks, which helps with my depression because I see people and that takes my mind off things. When I’m talking to people I feel OK. When I’m sat at home on my own – that’s when I feel bad.

Have you got a message for your customers?
Thank you so much for the support from all my customers, especially Anita and Mary. They always buy the magazine and give me advice.

Interview: Christian Lisseman

Photo: John Holt

Interact: Responses to Joe, Prestwich

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