Richard, Bromborough, Wirral

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 43 years old and I am originally from Slovakia.

What work have you done in the past?
When I was younger I went to Greece to pick oranges after I finished college. I stayed there for three months. I got a boat to Venice on the way home and then hitchhiked from there back to Slovakia. I was 18 years old. Then I got agency work and moved to London and worked on building sites. I then worked in many jobs. I worked in a recycling plant, in a factory and at a landfill tip. I had three jobs there and I was too busy for my family. That broke my relationship and when my wife left me, it broke my life. This is how I ended up in Liverpool and why I started selling Big Issue North. 

Do you enjoy selling the magazine?
I do enjoy it. I have nice customers, nice chats, they help me. Some of them come and sit and talk for hours. They are my new family. It is good to do something. I do not want to sit on the street and do nothing but beg for money. That is too sad. I see those people who beg and I know that they need help too, but I have chosen to do this.

Tell us about your children.
My son is 20 and he is an engineer. My daughter is working as a nurse in emergency care, plus she is also studying at university. She is 22 years old. If she finishes her studies she will be a doctor but it will take her six years. She would like to do transplants and heart operations. My dad had two heart attacks and two operations and my mum also had problems with her heart, so I am glad that she is studying that. It is a good thing. She is working full time and studying, so she works very hard. But I have said to her if she gets these qualifications she will have a good life. Both my children live in Slovakia with my ex-wife. We do not speak often. I do not have a phone – it was broken and it costs too much to have one anyway. And I cannot afford to get internet at home. 

What do you think about Brexit?
I do not understand the politics of it. What I am seeing on television and the news, it seems to be taking a long time. I am not sure what will happen. I could apply for citizenship but it costs more than £1,300 to apply for and I would also have to get a solicitor to do the paperwork. I should be able to get something called EU settled status instead, but it is very complicated. I have to prove that I have been in the UK for 10 years. This is difficult as I may not have everything I need. The staff in the Big Issue North office are helping me apply for this.

What are your hopes for the future?
I would like to do welding. I am a qualified welder and I have a licence, but I had health trouble that stopped me getting a job. And I would like to get a forklift truck driving licence, but it is hard to find a course and I would have to study full time but I cannot do that and work as well. Plus as soon as you earn some money they stop your housing benefit. I need money for travel, for food, for bills, for council tax. So it is very difficult to get into employment.

What makes you happy?
Nice people.

What makes you sad?
The situation that I am in, because everything costs money and without money it’s impossible to do anything. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
God bless everyone. 

Interact: Responses to Richard, Bromborough, Wirral

  • GAIL M
    02 Jun 2019 18:23
    HI , my name is Gail , i think what you are doing Richard is great , also the Big issue for helping people in need , take small positive steps , time is a great healer , you deserve to go forwards in your life , and now to be happy , x

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Big Issue North during the Coronavirus pandemic

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