Mohammed, Crosspool, Sheffield

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Bradford but my family is from Pakistan. I have been selling Big Issue North for around 15 years and I am 52 years old.

Where do you live?
I have got a house now in Sheffield, from the council. It’s not furnished, so I am saving up to buy things. Last week I bought a fridge and a cooker. At the moment I am sleeping on the floor so that my son can have my bed. I was living in a bedsit but it wasn’t so good, especially when my son moved in with me.

Tell us about your son.
My son is 13. He was born in Pakistan but I have managed to help him come and live with me. I want his life to be better than it was. It is very hard to get my family over to live with me. I have been trying for a very long time. My wife still lives in Pakistan. I wish I could find help to get all my family here.

What do you do in your spare time?
I am currently redecorating my new house. The council gave me some money but it wasn’t a lot. I enjoy decorating. I used to be a painter and decorator before I came to Sheffield. I also like to cook and I volunteer in a church, making coffee and things. 

Why did you start selling the magazine?
I used to live in London. I lived there for nine years and I had a business there. I moved back up here for my sister and her family but there were problems and I lost everything. 

Why do you still sell it?
It is difficult for me to find other work, but I have kept selling the magazine because I like it. I like to see people and to talk to them. I try my best, but sometimes I get very upset. The staff in the Sheffield office calm me down. They help me with things like applying for benefits and things. They are wonderful, kind people – they have saved my life. 

What are your hopes for the future?
I am hoping to start college to learn reading and writing in English. Then I could get a different type of job. I would like to do something – different things. I wish I had more money or could do something else.

What makes you happy?
When I meet different people. 

What makes you sad?
When I see all the homelessness in Sheffield. I see people sitting around and they have nothing. If I have extra food that I do not need, I bring it in to the office to give to the people who have nothing. But there are a lot of beggars in Sheffield and this really affects sales because people give to the beggars and do not buy from us.

Do you have a message for your customers?
I will never forget how much they have helped me. God bless them. 

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Big Issue North during the Coronavirus pandemic

We have taken the difficult decision to tell our vendors that they cannot sell Big Issue North on the streets during the Coronavirus pandemic, for the safety of the public and themselves.

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