Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m from Bucharest in Romania and I am 46 in June.
How long have you sold Big Issue North for?
Two years, maybe three. The first time, I sold The Big Issue in London, but not for long. And then I came to Liverpool.
Why do you sell the magazine?
I used to work on building sites, in construction, gardening and in factories. But when I was working on a building site in Germany I fell and broke my back. I was in hospital for many months and I now have metal in my back and I cannot lift very much. I sell the magazine to make some money. I have money just for a few things. When I do not have enough money to eat I put my phone or something in a place like Cash Converters to get some more. And then when things get better I can buy it back and so on.
What is Bucharest like?
It is a good place for tourists but it’s not a good place to live. And I cannot go back to Romania, because I borrowed a lot of money from a man and now I have to pay him back with more and I cannot.
Do you have a family?
I have a daughter. She turns 14 this year. I am divorced and my daughter lives in Bucharest with my mother. She understands why I cannot come back.
What was your childhood like?
I had a good childhood. I wish I could give my child a better life, like the one I had, but I cannot. I struggle to survive here. Sometimes my mother has to send me money to live. I think positive – maybe next month is better, maybe next year.
Where are you living at the moment?
I have a small flat in Southport and I live there on my own. When I first came to the UK I had nowhere to stay. I slept rough in London and in Liverpool and even in Southport. A Catholic sister in Liverpool gave me a tent and a sleeping bag and I slept in that as well for a while. It was difficult sleeping outside because of my back. It is great to have a flat now.
What do you do in your spare time?
In the summer I dress up as Pikachu from Pokémon and walk around in Southport, and sometimes in other cities, like Manchester and Liverpool. It makes people happy and it’s a kind of street performance that I do. I do this at weekends and then during the week I sell the magazine. It’s a big costume and very hot inside in the summer.
What languages can you speak?
I can speak German, English, Italian and Romanian obviously. I learnt to speak different languages through the television, from my armchair. It’s simple. I am good at languages.
What makes you happy?
I am happy when I go to work. People are very kind with me.
Do you have a message for your customers?
God bless you.