Fabio, Wilko, Preston

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Tell us about yourself.
I am 45. I was born in Preston but I was adopted into an Italian family when I was about three. When I was about 17 or 18
my family in Italy said that if I wanted to come back to England to see my birth family I could do it. So I came back here. My mum died a few years ago and now I have just my dad. He is now in a care home.

Why do you sell Big Issue North?
I was a chef in a pub for about 20 years, but I became epileptic about four or five years ago and so I cannot work in kitchens or restaurants now. It’s very difficult to find work because I can have a fit at any time but at least I can do this. If I am here on my pitch and I have a fit then people are passing and can help. But employers will not take a risk in employing me. I’ve been through a medical from the job centre and they say I am fit for work. But I cannot find a job so I am stuck and that’s why  I sell the magazine.

Do you like selling the magazine?
Yes. I enjoy it. At least I am with people. It’s gets me out from where I am staying, which is not a nice place anyway.

Where are you living?
I am staying in a room in a shared house. I just go there to sleep.

Do you still cook?
I can’t cook much at home. There’s only a microwave I use. Sometimes I go to the soup kitchen or there are Asian people who come to the market and give out curries at night. That
is how I get hot food.

Where did you live when you were in Italy?
I lived near Rome. I am still in touch with my adopted family in Italy – they are wonderful people. I would go back to visit but not to live. There are no jobs there. It is a bad, bad situation there. See how bad it is! Italy is not even in the World Cup next year.

Can you still speak Italian?
I have started to lose a few words in Italian. The other day I met a friend who is Italian. I started to speak to him in English. He said: “What are you doing?!” But at least I’ve still
got the accent.

What was it like meeting your birth mother and father?
It was a bit strange – a bit hot and cold. I didn’t know what to say. They didn’t know what to say. It took some time. We had a coffee and we started talking.

What makes you happy?
People. There are good people in Preston.

What makes you sad?
Working in a kitchen was my life and then all of a sudden I was told that I could not do that. That makes me very sad.

What do you hope for in the future?
I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. I feel hopeful. I never lose hope. But I can’t plan anything. I’ll just take whatever happens.

What are you doing for Christmas?
I don’t know yet. I might go to the Foxton Centre in Preston. Last year they had a Christmas meal there. Or maybe the Salvation Army.

Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you for helping me by buying the magazine.

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