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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