Pete, Waterstones, Hull

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Where are you from?
I come from Grimsby. I had a lot of issues there and I came to Hull to get away from them. I was in a hostel for a while and then I was street homeless. 

Where are you living now?
I am in a flat. I have been there for about three or four years now. It’s good. I like my own company. 

‘Selling the magazine means I can stand on my own two feet’

How did you find being homeless?
It was horrible. It amazes me that some people have been homeless for a long time. I mean, I wasn’t a survivor whereas some people are. The other day I saw someone who had got wet and that was him for the day. I’ve been there myself – when I’ve been absolutely soaked and there’s no way of drying your clothes. I think some of the general public, they don’t take any notice and they always think that it’s someone else’s problem, but if the people of Hull don’t help with the problems on the streets here, then who’s going to? A lot of people who are homeless it’s not their fault. There’s just not enough houses for everyone. One particular problem I’ve noticed is that people coming out of prison don’t get help. At the very best they get three days in a bed and breakfast and then they are back on the streets and they go back to begging or whatever. It’s a vicious circle.

Is there a lot of begging in Hull?
Well, there’s been a change here recently. There was a lot of begging at one point but the police seem to have got on top of it and I think it’s improved. It was a problem for me at one stage, when I was selling the magazine and someone was sitting there begging right next to me all the time. There’s also a new drug about called spice and a lot of people were sitting around doing it in the city centre. They were all over the place at nine and 10 in the morning. But the police had a clampdown, because obviously people don’t want to see that when they come into town. But I understand why it happens. There are some people who have never touched drugs in their life but, when they become homeless, they are sat around all day doing absolutely nothing and that’s when they can
get into things like that.

Looking ahead, do you have any plans?
I don’t have plans. I just take each day as it comes. I don’t know where I want to be really. I’m still fighting a bit of depression but I’m OK at the moment, so I don’t really want to think about things too much. Otherwise that can bring me down. 

Why do you sell the magazine?
It gives me independence. I’m still in a bit of a lull with life but selling the magazine means I can stand on my own two feet. The thing with me is, because my family life wasn’t really routine, what I really like about my life now and about selling Big Issue North is that it gives me that routine: getting up early and coming to buy my magazines. It gives me a proper routine every day and I like that because I didn’t really have that when I was a kid.

What was your childhood like?
My mum used to drink a bit. It wasn’t majorly bad, but I craved that kind of happy family life. You see it on the streets here all the time, when the kids are out and laughing with their parents. I never had that. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
Just thank you. For every person who doesn’t ignore me, it makes such a difference to my day when someone stops to chat. That’s the reason I come out really – to chat to people.

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