How long have you been selling Big Issue North?
I’ve been selling the magazine since I was 17 and I’m 21 now. I’m originally from Romania but I have lived in England since I was 11.
‘Wigan’s a friendly place and people stop and have a chat with you’
Your English is good – did you learn that at school?
No, I didn’t go to school when we came to England. We had lots of problems and I had to stop at home to look after my mother. I did go to school for a few years in Romania. My English is good because I talk to people. Selling Big Issue North helped me because I was talking to customers and listening to people.
Tell us about your family.
I live in Manchester with my family and I have nine brothers and sisters. I am the oldest and the youngest child is six. My mother died last year so it’s hard. I miss her very much and am sad because she is not there anymore. But I have to try and be positive. I have a good family. They look after me and keep me going. Plus I have a son of my own now. He is four and I hope his life will be better than mine. I want him to have a good education and I hope he goes to school and college and then he can look after me in the future. I also have a partner who lives with us. He is a good man.
Do you remember much about Romania and life there?
I remember a bit of Romania. It’s a nice country and I’m proud of where I come from. But it’s a very poor country as well, and there’s not much help and no opportunity like here. I miss it a little bit but most of my family is here and I’ve been here quite a long time. Last year I went back to visit and I was like “Whoa! Where am I?” It felt like a different place. I like England and this is my home – I hope it is anyway.
Do you worry about the future and Brexit?
I don’t worry much about Brexit. I have some friends and they help me think positive. But in a way I do worry, because you hear different things every day on the news so you don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Why do you sell the magazine?
I sell the magazine because I couldn’t find a job and I don’t have a very good education. I would like a different job one day though. Don’t get me wrong – Big Issue North helps a lot of people and it’s really good but it’s really really hard to sell the magazine. I know some people who think that the people who sell it do it because they are lazy. They are wrong, because they don’t know what it’s like standing there whatever the weather, waiting for people to buy the magazine off you.
What makes you happy?
When I see my family happy, I am happy.
Do you have a message for your customers?
I have always sold in Wigan. I like the people there. It’s a friendly place and people stop and have a chat with you. They are very polite. I want to say thanks to all my customers for being there, for supporting me. Many of my customers noticed that I was down when my mother died, because they know I am happy most of the time, and they were there for me.