Mark, Morrisons, Rothwell

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Tell us a bit about yourself
I am 52 and originally from Ilkley. I used to sell the Evening Post in Leeds but we were made redundant and after that it was difficult to find other work and I struggled to pay my rent. I lost my flat and everything else and ended up on the streets. Then I started to sell Big Issue North. I used to sell the magazine outside Waterstones in Leeds city centre but now I have moved to an out-of-town pitch in Rothwell, near Wakefield. 

‘I am qualified as a welder. I might look at going back to that’

Where do you live?
I live in a flat in Leeds. I’ve lived there for just over a year. I used to live in a bedsit in Beeston, but I had some problems. I was poorly and I ended up in hospital. Because I was there, my rent didn’t get paid and the landlord kicked me out. This was just before Christmas 2017. I came out of hospital to find that I had been evicted and I ended up on the streets again. Luckily, someone from the Big Issue North office helped me get this new place. 

Do you miss the Waterstones pitch?
I do. I lost the pitch when I was in hospital because someone else had to take it over. I miss my old customers there, but I fancied a change and so I tried this new pitch out of town and it’s going well so far. It’s a good pitch. The staff in Morrisons look after me. 

How is life going now?
Life is good now. Steady. My health is improving, but I have to use a walking stick because I have trouble with my leg. 

What are your plans for this year?
I don’t know yet. I will play it by ear and see what happens. If things go all right, I’ll be happy. I’d like to get a job at some point now that I have got my health back. 

What kind of work would you like to do?
I don’t know. I am qualified as a welder so I might look at going back to that and getting retrained.

What makes you happy?
Everything makes me happy. Life. I do get some bad days, but when I have one of those I just walk away from it. 

What do you do in your spare time?
I go home and listen to the radio. That’s all I’ve got, the radio. I don’t have a television. I just listen to whatever is on.

Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you to all my customers, the new ones and the old. 

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