Why did you first start selling Big Issue North?
A friend was selling it. I was on the streets. I was out drinking. I was an alcoholic then. My mum wasn’t well. She had cancer at the time. It ripped me apart. I’ve been all over Yorkshire selling the magazine. I have been selling the magazine for 15 years this year.
‘I’m the vendor rep for Sheffield now. I make sure sellers are safe’
How’s life now?
I am happy. I’m selling. I’m meeting different people. I like that. I like to talk to people. And I have a new girlfriend. I met her on Facebook. She lives in Surrey. I’ve been to visit her a few times and she is coming up to visit me. And I’m the vendor rep for Sheffield now as well.
What does being a vendor rep mean?
I walk around make sure sellers are safe and make sure they feel all right. And I make sure they have the badge and bib on and make sure they are not false sellers. I enjoy it.
What’s the situation with homelessness in Sheffield?
Homelessness is bad in Sheffield. You see them in the doorways. Sleeping bags everywhere. Drugs are a problem – that spice. It’s a bad drug. It’s so cheap as well. That’s a big problem in Sheffield. People hang around the streets and ask you if you want to get it. I tell them to hop it. If they keep bothering me I can deal with it. I am trained in jujitsu but you have to warn them three times before you defend yourself. I would rather talk to them and calm them down anyway. I don’t understand why people take spice. They should stop. I was a proper alcoholic and I came off it. Drinking doesn’t really bother me much now.
What annoys you?
I get annoyed by the mess, the litter that people leave. You can see it around the Cathedral in Sheffield where the Archer Project is. And they get their windows put through and everything. The Archer Project are trying to help people and they just get their windows put through and that money gets taken out of the money they have, and if that keeps happening they will run out of money and then they won’t be able to help anyone.
If you could do another job, what would you do?
I would like to work in the sales office selling the magazine to vendors. If I could read and write I would do that. I went to a special school. Not being able to read and write has affected my life.
When we spoke last year*, you were worried about your friend who had gone missing. What happened?
I found him. Derek – he’s my best mate and we have known each other for years. We look after each other.
And how is your dog Roxy?
Roxy is fine. She stays at home in the bungalow now though because it is too cold to bring her out.
Tell us something about yourself that we don’t know.
I can play the mouth organ.