Alby, Chester city centre

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 41 and I have been selling Big Issue North and The Big Issue on and off for a long time. I’ve worked in a fair few places, but the first place I ever sold was in Norwich. I was 17, nearly 18. 

‘I want a place of my own, and I want to get married to Kirsten’

Why did you first start selling?
I was living on the streets. I was begging. I got told to go and get a job and I saw some bloke selling a magazine and I asked him how he got into it. He explained how you sign up and that you get five issues free to start you off and after that you can either just use the money to do what you want or go back and buy more magazines to sell. I thought I would give it a go and ever since I have been doing it. If it wasn’t for these magazines I would have been stuffed. I think I would have been dead years ago.

How did you end up on the streets?
I was in and out of care all my life. I was born in care, or I may as well have been. My mum got rid of me as soon as she could. She told me that if it wasn’t for my nan, I wouldn’t have been born. She didn’t want me. I was put with a foster family but it didn’t work out. I ran away 18 times from them and I was taken back every time. The eighteenth time I got taken back, my mum and my foster mum came and picked me up from the police station. As soon as I walked out my mum punched me in the mouth full whack. I was only thirteen. And I was told by my foster mum that I would get more when I got home, and believe me I got a lot more. I was turned black and blue and made to stay in for weeks afterwards until the bruises went away. 

Where are you living now?
I just got a one bedroom flat through the Big Issue North office. I asked them to help me find somewhere to live and they told me about this place called Belmont House and they found a place for me there. It’s brilliant. I love it. Before that I was on the street. 

What do you hope for in the future?
I want to be in a place of my own, and I want to get married to my partner, Kirsten*. She means more than the world to me, though I don’t always show it. 

Tell us about your dog.
Kane is a staffie cross and he came to us through a friend of Kirsten’s. He’s a bit boisterous but he’s still a puppy and he’s a good dog. I’d do anything for him. 

How have you kept going in life?
Determination – that’s the one thing I’ve got. I mean, there have been times when I have tried giving up and have almost succeeded. But all of what I went through has made me a better person. I have my faults – everyone does. But I don’t expect anything from the world now, as long as it doesn’t expect anything from me. I just want to get by, and selling the magazine is the way I do that. Now all I have to do is look after me, my partner and my dog. 

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