Karol, Walkley, Sheffield

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Where are you from?
I am from Poznań. It’s in the west of Poland. I came to England for work and have been here on and off for a number of years. I came to make good money. Also here is better. People are better. Polish people are very Catholic, very conservative. But here it’s different. People here are more open minded.

How old are you?
I am 40 years old. I didn’t like turning 40. I am middle aged! But I still feel young.

‘I sell the magazine because I need money for food and rent’

Why do you sell Big Issue North?
I was looking for a job but I got sciatica. It is very painful. And I can’t lift because of it. And so I had to sell the magazine to work. I have been selling the magazine for a year now because I need money for food and rent. A few months ago I did English fork lift driver training. That was what I did in Poland. So if I find a similar job here I will stop selling the magazine. It’s difficult to find a job in this area though.

Where do you live?
I live in Sheffield and have lived here for two years. I live in a room in a shared house. It’s good, it’s warm. I have food, a TV, music sometimes. It’s OK. And I have good friends as well. That is important. I have friends from all over England and Polish friends. Sometimes I go to a Polish community in a church. We eat food and talk in Polish and that is good.

Your English is good. Where did you learn to speak it?
I don’t think my English is that good. I need to improve it. I didn’t learn English at school. All my English I have learnt from speaking to people. At school I learnt Russian and German, as well as Polish of course.

Do you miss Poland?
Sometimes. My city Poznań is nice. It is about 900 years old. It has an old square that is very beautiful. I miss my family and I miss having a beer outside, sitting by the river with my friends in the sunshine.

What’s your pitch like?
It’s a good pitch. It’s near my home. Five minutes. I usually sell in the afternoon when people are coming home from work. It is a hard job when it is cold and wet. But when it is good weather it is a good job.

What are your plans for Christmas?
I am not sure. I might go to a friend’s house and have a Polish Christmas. We eat white sausage made of pork and beef, and bigos, which is a stew with cabbage and mushrooms and meat. We eat this on Christmas Day. We give presents on Christmas Eve after an evening meal of fish and rice. As soon as it turns midnight, people come into the kitchen and look for the white sausage to eat.

What are your hopes for 2018?
To get a new job. It would be good to earn some more money because you can spend all your money very quickly. And also I would wish to meet a nice woman. I have been single for a while now.

Do you have a message for your customers?
Wesołych Świąt i Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku. That’s merry Christmas and happy new year in Polish. I wish this for all!

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