Shane, Marks and Spencer, York

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m nearly 32 and I’m from Skipton originally. I’ve been selling the magazine on and off for about 10 years. I’ve sold in York before, and then in Leeds. I’ve been back in York since about February.

‘I want my kids to do well at school, hopefully go to university’

And how’s it going?
It didn’t start off very well but it’s getting better now. The pitch I’m on has had a lot of history. People really liked the vendors who were here before me and it took a bit of time for people to get used to me, but it’s going OK. It’s just about showing people that you are alright and that you are just trying to do your best.

Where do you live?
I live in Leeds. I come on the bus to get here. I try and get here about five days a week. I was homeless when I started selling the magazine, but I’ve got somewhere to live now and things are getting better. I live with my partner and our two kids. 

Why do you sell the magazine?
I try and treat selling Big Issue North as much as a normal job as I can. I’ve had gaps in my work history and I’ve been homeless and had some problems so it’s hard to find other employment. Selling the magazine gives you some flexibility and this is the best way to keep me going and make sure I’m doing alright.

Would you like to do something else?
I used to run snack vans, selling burgers and things like that, and I’d like to get something like that started up again one day. I like working for myself and after 10 years selling the magazine, I think I would find it hard to work under a boss.

What’s it like selling the magazine?
I am quite a shy person, I really am. But when I put this bib and badge on, it’s like a sort of barrier or an alter ego and I feel more confident. I try and look smart but it can be difficult. If I look scruffy, people say things like “Oh, you just spend your money on drink or drugs”, which I don’t, but if I look too smart people say: “Oh you obviously don’t need the money.”

What was your childhood like?
My childhood was a bit crazy. I spent most of it in care and in children’s homes. Then when I was 14 I lived on my own and fended for myself. I used to get a tenner on a Monday, a tenner on a Wednesday and 15 quid on a Friday from social services and that was my foster placement. Oh, and if I went to school I used to get £2 at dinner time.

Tell us about your children.
My kids are two and three years old. We don’t have any other family to help us out so we’re just raising them together. They go to nursery, I drop them off and then I go to the office to buy my magazines, and then come to York. My partner goes and picks them up in the afternoon and I try and get home for about six so I can have tea with them before they go to bed.

What do you hope for for them?
That their lives are better than mine. I want them to do well at school, hopefully go to university. I just hope they do well. I’m
sure they will. 

What do you do in your spare time?
I listen to music, play football, things like that. I like rap music. I still listen to the same songs that I used to listen to when I was younger. Tupac is my favourite rapper. 

What makes you happy?
As long as the kids are happy, I’m happy. It’s such a buzz seeing them happy. You can’t
beat that feeling. That’s my main focus.

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