You’re a regular Big Issue North vendor, Dave, but you’ve been away for a while. What’s been happening?
I’ve just started selling the magazine again in the last couple of weeks. During the last 12 months I have been under a lot of pressure. I’ve had some financial problems and a lot of health problems, things like chest infections, which kept me off work and added to the stress. All of this led to me having a nervous breakdown just before Christmas. I don’t remember much about the actual breakdown. I was at home when it happened. A friend of mine called the police because I was a danger to myself. I came close to committing suicide.
‘My plan is to get that caravan that I have always wanted.’
Were you aware that you were heading for a breakdown last year?
I knew that my mental health was deteriorating but I didn’t let it show. A lot of my customers didn’t realise what kind of stress I was under. People don’t see it, what’s inside, especially if you come across like I do as all happy and outgoing. I tried to cover it up and not show people by smiling all the time but inside it was killing me.
How are you now?
Recovery has been slow. I’m getting professional counselling, working with staff from Big Issue North and a friend of mine is also supporting me.
Has selling the magazine helped in your recovery?
I have had some very good support from Big Issue North. It was important for me to know that I could come back and sell again when I recovered, to see the people who know me from selling the magazine. I am 100 per cent pleased to be back selling the magazine properly, it’s been a couple of difficult years but I have had such great support from a lot of people. It feels like “Manchester loves you”.
What are you hoping for in the future?
I am hoping to get a permanent pitch re-established somewhere and I turn 60 on 6 May. That feels like a big milestone. I am hoping that my life will turn around. I feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. My plan is to get that caravan that I have always wanted and to retire to North Wales in the next couple of years.
What do you feel when you look back over the last 60 years?
Life has been an uphill struggle ever since I was a child. But I feel that I have a family now, not just in Big Issue North but in the broader circle of my customers who have all helped me out over the years. I didn’t have the family 60 years ago that I have got now.
What was your childhood like?
It was tough. A friend of my dad’s and a couple of other men abused me. I was only five when I was first raped. And I still ask why was it me, why did they pick on me? I was only a little kid. I think that’s what’s caused a lot of my problems over the years. Because of that abuse I always support Children in Need as a charity because I know that kind of thing still goes on, and I hope with the help of charities like that, some kids today can have a better life than I did. I can’t do much to help, but I do what I can to support them.
What makes you happy now?
Just being alive and looking forward to the future.
Do you have a message for your customers?
I want to say a special thank you to all the people who have been helping me, especially people at the Co-op who have been there for me. Without all that support I would never got through another year.