Ian, Primark, Preston

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 51. Turning 52 in December. I’m originally from Aldershot. I travelled the world for years when I was younger. Then ended up in Preston.

How did you travel the world?
My dad was in the army so we went everywhere, but I came to Preston in the eighties.

How long have you sold Big Issue North for?
I’ve done this for four years now. It was another vendor who got me on to it and it’s done me good, this has. I used to sit there begging. All sorts. This gives me a reason to get up and get out of bed. I’m here at half six, seven, every morning without fail – rain or shine. Selling the magazine helps pay the bills, for food, food for my dog, council tax.

How did you end up being homeless?
I used to have a really busy life. I had my own landscape gardening business. I used to water ski and fix cars that took part in drag racing. Then my missus died in 2010. I ended up hitting the booze and everything. So I ended up on the streets.

How’s life now?
I’m in a flat now. And I haven’t had a drink since March last year. I packed it in then. Now I’m getting sorted. I’m slowly getting there.

How has 2017 been?
I had a bad start to the year. I skidded on the ice on my pushbike and woke up on the bonnet of a car. I ended up with broken ribs and wrote off my bike. I was off my feet for two weeks. The rest of the year has been up and down. It’s getting harder to make money on the magazine. There’s more competition. And there’s so many beggars now, people are getting sick of being asked for money all the time, so they just ignore you.

How did you find begging?
I did it years ago, but I found it too embarrassing. I mean, there’s a lot of money to be made begging, but it’s good that I am working now. At least I am doing something that is worth getting out of bed for.

What are your hopes for the future?
To just keep on going the right way. It wouldn’t bother me if I was still sat here selling the magazine this time next year. I like doing this. I’m out. I meet people.

What makes you happy?
When it’s not raining and the sun is out. And not drinking.

Tell us about your dog.
Pepper is a two-year-old Staffie cross. Everyone loves her. She’s important to me. She sits on my lap when I sell the magazine, she keeps me warm and looks after me. I got her at 14 weeks old. She was a rescue. She had been kept in a small cage, no food or water, full of muck. And I’ve looked after her ever since. She’s fantastic. I wouldn’t sell her for anything. She’s spoilt rotten. She sleeps in my bed and she gets two pig’s legs to chew on every week. I’m not a big fan of Christmas but no matter what, Pepper will get a Christmas present.

Photo: Wendy Elaine Keogh

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