Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am from Poland and I am 41 years old. I started living in Sheffield in 2005. I worked on a fun fair for a few years and then I moved to Doncaster and I had a normal, regular job. Since then I’ve moved back and forth to Poland a couple of times and I lived in Cornwall for a while with my brother and I worked at a tulip factory. But I was drinking too much and in the end my brother had had enough and he bought me a ticket back to Poland. I came back to Sheffield in 2015 to live with another of my brothers. He lives here with his wife and their three children. Everything was OK while I was sober. But then I started drinking again.
What happened then?
My brother kept giving me chances but his patience ran out and he told me to leave. I tried detox and I’ve been in hospital. I ended up on the streets for a while.
‘I like selling the magazine. I do not beg. Some days are really good’
Where are you living now?
Now I share a house with some friends and, fingers crossed, things are getting better. I am waiting to go back into detox. I am trying to be sober now because when I am sober my life is sorted. But sometimes I drink because I am bored. I don’t have hobbies or anything, so I just get bored and start drinking. And there is always temptation. Most of my family don’t speak to me now, but my brother says: “My home is your home, when you are sober.”
What was sleeping rough like?
I didn’t mind sleeping rough. I am a big man. I can survive. I stayed away from people using drugs and things like that. But it is good to be in a place again now.
Tell us about your family.
I have three brothers and three sisters. I am the eldest. The black sheep.
What work have you done in the past?
I am a qualified electrician and if I could get my CSCS card I could work here doing that, but I have to get sober first. But I have worked in factories a lot and I could do that work again in the future.
How long have you sold Big Issue North for?
I have sold for about a year. I started selling the magazine because I needed to survive, and I have a friend who told me about it. I like selling the magazine. I do not beg. Some days are really good, like on Mondays when it is a new magazine. I have got some really good customers who come to me each week.
What makes you happy?
I will be happy when I am sober.
Do you have a message for your customers?
I always say to them face to face: “Thank you.” And I keep smiling. This is important. No matter what is happening – my problems, my past, no matter what – I keep smiling. I keep smiling for them.