Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 34. I have been selling Big Issue North in Formby for about four years. I like selling it and I like Formby. The people are very nice and they have a lot of respect for me.
Why do you sell the magazine?
I sell the magazine for my family, my children.
‘I miss my family and I’m often stressed about our situation’
Tell us about your family.
I have four children. The eldest is 16 in January. My youngest son is eight. My wife and three of my children live in Romania. My wife is very ill. She has cancer. My eldest daughter is going to school here in England. Of course I miss my family. I am often stressed about our situation and this is bad for my health as well. It is very difficult to be separated from them. But it has to be because I must earn money.
What is life like for your family in Romania?
It is very difficult. Very hard. The benefit people get paid in Romania is very low. It can only pay for the rent and a little food. And there is no good work there, the pay is very low. My wife is now having therapy at a hospital in Bucharest. This is 150km from the village where she lives and she has to travel to the hospital by bus. My children phone me every day always asking me to send money but that is not possible. I try to work as much as I can, to earn what I can. I send money back to them every two weeks.
What hopes do you have for the future?
I want life to be better for my children. I do not have any plans for myself. I have plans for them. They do not understand that life is so difficult. They want the same life as their friends, they see what they have and want what they have. They want sweets and clothes and they see them buying things that they cannot have because they do not have the money.
Where do you live?
I live with a friend. My daughter lives there too. We cannot afford our own place. In Romania, my wife and children live with my brother in the house that belonged to my father. It is a very old house. When it is raining there, it rains in the rooms because the roof is broken. My family have to share two bedrooms in the house but they often sleep in one bed because if it is raining they cannot use one of those bedrooms.
Have you tried looking for a different job, other than selling the magazine?
I have tried finding a different job for more money. I have applied for many jobs but have not found one yet. Every time I have found a job it is too far away. I do not have a car and if it is a late shift, I cannot get there from where I live. It would be better for my family if I could get a different job but I have to keep selling the magazine for now. This works for me even though sometimes it is cold and wet when I am standing outside.
How else has selling the magazine helped you?
The staff in the Big Issue North are very good. They understand what problems I have and try to help me when they can. And my English is getting better and better because I am talking to my customers, my friends in Formby.
What are your plans for Christmas?
I will mainly work but if I can get enough money before Christmas I would like to go back to Romania to see the rest of my family.
Do you have a message for your customers?
I want to thank them, thank everyone who helps me. They are so nice to me.