Eugeniusz, Hull train station

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 61 years old and I am from Poland.

‘I slept on the streets for eight months but now I have a house’

When we spoke last year, you were sleeping on the streets. Where are you now?
I was sleeping on the streets for eight months but now I have a house which the council found for me. I had to be here in Hull for six months before the council would help me. I could not stay in a hostel because I did not have housing benefit. I have had the new house since the end of January. I am very happy now. It was a good feeling, moving in. I am very happy for what I have. It is so much better than being on the street. 

Why do you sell Big Issue North?
I sell the magazine now so that I can buy things for the house. I do not have a cooker or a washing machine. I did get a fridge a few weeks ago because someone in the Hull Big Issue North office helped me get one. 

Do you like selling the magazine?
I am very happy selling it but sometimes it is difficult. Some weeks are hard. I only sold three magazines one week. I do not know why. Some weeks are better. I enjoy talking to people who come and talk to me and understand me. And the Big Issue North people are very good. They comfort me and help me buy things that I need for my house. I cannot sell the magazine for very long, because I cannot stand for too long. I have been very sick. I had a bypass operation and I am diabetic. I have been told that I cannot claim ESA and instead I have to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. I have appealed.
I don’t understand. The doctors say that I cannot work, they give me sick notes, but I still must claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. 

Your dog is not with you today. Where is he?
Fitago is at home. He is sick. Someone gave him a chicken bone – they are bad for a dog. He has been to a vet. Hopefully he will be back on my pitch with me soon.

Would you ever move back to Poland?
No, I will always stay here. I have lived in England for 14 years and worked here. My mother and daughter are buried in a cemetery in London. I don’t want to be so far from them. 

Do you have any other family?
I have my son, but he doesn’t want to come here. He is a good son. He has a wife. He works in a hospital.

Are you worried about Brexit?
It is not good that England is leaving the EU – not just for me but for the people here, for English people. They will lose so much when they leave and I see people worrying about what will happen next. I can’t say too much about it though. I can only say my opinion. After all, this is not my country. 

Are you happy?
I am usually happy. But I do worry sometimes about things – if I do not sell enough magazines, things like that. Sometimes I worry what will happen in the next day. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
I want to thank everyone who has helped me, who has understood my situation. People helped me a lot while I was on the streets, especially after I was in Big Issue North last year with my dog. They made sure I was okay.

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