Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 34 and I’ve been selling Big Issue North for about two years on and off. I first became homeless when I was 16, because of family problems.
Tell us about your dog.
Georgia is a 10-year-old Rottweiler and she’s very well looked after. She is my best friend, my saleswoman and my hot water bottle. I wouldn’t sell her for a million quid. Some people are wary of her, but once they get to know her they realise she’s soft. She’s well trained and brilliant with kids and other dogs.
You used to sell in Preston. Why did you move pitches?
I still sell in Preston sometimes but there are too many beggars on the street there and people tend not to buy the magazine from you. People often buy me sausage rolls for the dog, which I’m really grateful for, but I can end the day with 30 sausage rolls but not much money. If I could find a landlord who would take sausage rolls as payment, I’d have a nice house. More people in Lytham buy the magazine and help me out. I’m not in receipt of any benefits so I rely on selling the magazine to make money – that and selling scrap metal and other stuff.
Tell us more about your scrap metal business.
I look for whatever I can salvage and sell on. I can make a bit of a living that way. I’m well known in Preston because I used to walk around with a shopping trolley collecting whatever I could: broken washing machines, cookers, microwaves and also clothes and books – anything that’s salvageable. Now I have a bike with a trailer. It saves me money getting to Lytham and back, and I use it to carry scrap metal and whatever else I have. It’s a van without tax and insurance, and my dog can go on the back. She loves it. Cycling Recycling – that’s my business name.
Why don’t you claim any benefits?
I’ve got memory problems, caused by stress and anxiety, and I struggle to keep appointments. Every time I make a claim I have to go to several appointments, and there are all these hoops that they make you jump through. I have found the best way to survive is to sell the magazine and do the scrap metal. At least that way I can feed myself and pay rent.
What do you like about selling the magazine?
Doing this is the only time that I have ever been stable. When the scrap metal price goes down, I struggle, so at least with the magazine it’s always there. And selling the magazine has restored my faith in humanity. It’s taught me not to judge people on how they look. I used to look at some people and think they wouldn’t like me, that they were stuck up or something. But once you become part of the community, people warm to you. That’s what’s nice about selling in Lytham – there’s a good community and they look after me.
What makes you happy?
The fact that life is getting better. I have a girlfriend now who I met on my Big Issue North pitch outside St Georges shopping centre in Preston, which is where she works. And Georgia of course – she makes me happy.
What do you hope for in the future?
I would love to own a scrapyard one day and a shop where people could bring stuff in that they wanted to get rid of that I could sell on. I’d also like to move to Lytham, if we could find a place to rent.
Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you very much for your support and please continue to buy the magazine.