Joe, Marks and Spencer, Prestwich

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 58 and I was born in Glasgow, but we moved to Leeds when I was little, so I don’t have a Scottish accent.

‘I hope to go to my mate’s for Xmas dinner. It can be a lonely time’

How long have you sold Big Issue North for?
On and off, many years. I started when I was homeless, in a hostel in Leeds. My dad had died and there were family problems. I have stopped selling sometimes. I went begging for a while, but I couldn’t do it. You get bullied and things like that. I sell the magazine to keep me going with money, but I also like selling it. The staff in the office are nice and polite.

What’s stopped you getting a different job?
To get a job you need qualifications but I haven’t got any. I went to a special school and I didn’t enjoy it. I used to do a runner from there a lot. I was getting picked on all the time. 

Where do you live now?
I live in a housing association house. I’ve been there about 15 years or so and I’m settled there. I was going to get evicted because there were problems with my girlfriend at the time, who was living with me. She was using drugs. I’ve never touched drugs in my life and it was difficult living with someone who did. I used to spend a lot of my money getting drugs for her but she’s gone now. 

Where will you be at Christmas?
In my flat, but I’m hoping to go to my mate’s for Christmas dinner. He also sells the magazine in Prestwich. It can be a lonely time, Christmas. I suffer with depression and am on tablets from the doctors. Now and again I feel down – I feel like that’s it. I just want to give up. Sometimes I have a drink to help me out. I don’t drink too much. I can leave it when I want to. But when I get down, I do start drinking again. 

Do you have any family?
I had seven sisters and one brother but some have died. I’ve still got one sister in Leeds, one in York, and one in Scotland, but we don’t speak. The last time I saw them was when I was on the Jeremy Kyle Show.

How did that happen?
About a year ago one of my sisters tracked me down and told me I had a daughter. I said I hadn’t and decided to do a DNA test. But when I looked online it was about 70-odd pounds to do a test, but if you went on the Jeremy Kyle show it was free. So I rang them up and I told them and they got me and my family on the show. I felt sorry for the girl who was saying she was my daughter. She was only 20-odd. I came out and I was like: “Why are you calling my mam nana and my sisters auntie when you’re no relation to me?” Anyway, they did the DNA test and it turns out that I really am her father. I remember her mother. I met her at a club and I can remember dancing with her but I can’t remember anything else. 

What was it like appearing on the Jeremy Kyle Show?
You only see what’s on stage. In the background, they come into the room you are in and wind you up – telling you things the other person has said and stuff. But you don’t see that on the telly. Still, I got to tell Jeremy Kyle to shut up when I was on it. I said: “This is my show, not yours!”

What are your plans for 2020?
I have a new year’s resolution to stop smoking and drinking. I just want to quit everything and feel healthier. You can come and check if I’ve done it next year. 

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