Denisa, Nantwich town centre

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 23 and I have sold Big Issue North for about four or five years. I came to the UK with my family in 2008, when I was 13. Before that we lived in Spain for five years, but I was born in Romania.

Why do you sell the magazine?
To keep going and to be able to go on day by day. As a Gypsy woman it is hard for me to get another job.

‘I like people to treat it like a proper job, they are customers ’

Is it important to you that people see selling the magazine as a job and not like begging for money?
It is important, yes. I don’t like to stand there just shouting “Big Issue” all day. I like to make people feel like they want to take the magazine. I would like people to treat it like a proper job. Like they would go into a bread shop or something like that, as a customer, to buy something. This is a proper job because you are buying and selling the magazine. I think it is harder than any job that you can do, standing all day in the rain and the cold and the hot weather, not knowing how much money you are going to make. Some people don’t even look at you and make you feel like you don’t mean much, so it’s quite hard.

What does being a Roma Gypsy mean to you?
I was born into this tradition which has been going for generations. We get treated differently sometimes. Some people don’t like Gypsies. But I’m proud to be a Gypsy and I don’t mind if other people think differently. That’s up to them. There are a lot of good people who are Gypsies and bad people too, just like anyone else. You can’t judge people like that.

Have the Roma traditions changed over time?
Yes. These days traditions have changed a lot. Like in the past we wouldn’t have been allowed to have phones and things, but it’s changing. We have more freedom now. It’s OK now as a woman to have some free life.

What languages do you speak?
I can speak Spanish very well and I like speaking English to my customers and learning this language. That’s how I learnt English – through selling the magazine and then asking customers how I use certain words. I also speak Romanian and Gypsy language, which is different to Romanian.

On the cover of this week’s magazine is a portrait of you. Tell us about that.
I was part of Nantwich Faces, an exhibition of paintings done by a local artist Cath Kelly, who came and made a drawing of me. It was on display in the museum for a couple of months.

Tell us about your family.
I have two boys and a girl. I was quite young when I had my first child but I see young English women with children too. I don’t think it’s that unusual. I have a partner, not a husband. I hope to marry one day but we won’t marry until we are older because in our tradition once you are married then that is for life. We don’t get divorced, so we will wait until we are both older and sure it will be forever.

What do you hope for in the future?
I hope for my children that they do well with studying and are focused in school. If my own daughter wanted to go to university one day that would be great. I don’t want my children to sell Big Issue North like me.

Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you so much, for being there, for encouraging me, talking to me and taking care of me.

Interact: Responses to Denisa, Nantwich town centre

  • Jason
    26 Jun 2018 22:56
    Lovely to see Denisa on front cover. No matter the weather, I know every Saturday lunchtime I can get my copy for its crossword, she is really nice to have a quick chat, and remembers people, like she remembered my birthday!

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