Freddy, Marks and Spencer, Manchester

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How long have you been selling Big Issue North for?
I’ve been on my pitch for the last 12 years. I’m there every morning. I’m pretty well known there now. I like interacting with people. I like being out. I can’t be doing with being stuck inside. It does me good and it passes the day better. 

And how’s life at the moment?
It’s alright. I’ve got some ill health, but you just have to get on with it. I’m about 59 now or something. I was born in the sixties, but I forget the exact year.

‘I love going to my pitch. I look forward to meeting people’

What was your childhood like?
It was hard. I grew up in a kids’ home. It was a really tough life. There was a child murdered there and I got arrested for that when I was only 13. I had no parents behind me or nothing. I was banged up on remand for murder and there for seven months and then they dropped the charges. That’s in my mind all the time. It never goes away. I thought I was going to spend my life in jail. I thought I would die there. I was only a child. I guess growing up in care is one of the main reasons that my life is the way it is. But you have got to get over it. You can’t go on all your life holding on to it. It just screws you up.

Where do you live now?
I have a studio flat – my room. I’ve got my own kitchen and bathroom. It’s not very big but I don’t need a big place. I have come close to losing it in the past. I get fed up with it sometimes. Sometimes it feels like there are bars on the windows. I spent a long time sleeping on the streets and sometimes that feels more free, more open. I love open spaces. Even now I sometimes sleep outside.

Would you ever want to move?
Nah. It suits me where I am. If I want to, I can get up and walk away. And it’s much better than some of the other places I’ve slept in the past. At least I don’t get wet when it rains. 

You suffer from depression, don’t you?
Yeah, I get depressed now and again. But you have to fight your way through it. My pitch helps with that. I look forward to meeting people and if I didn’t do that I would just be in my room all day, not speaking to anyone.

What are your plans for this year?
Just carry on really. I do sometimes think about getting a different job but I don’t know. I get a bit sick of selling the magazine sometimes but then whatever job you have, you can get a bit sick of it. I have more going for me than some other people, haven’t I? I would much rather be selling the magazine than working in a factory. 

What do you do in your spare time?
I like to go night fishing. It’s great. I like the peace and quiet. You get decent fish at night. 

What makes you happy?
Being outside.

What makes you sad?
People not listening and when someone says “Get a job” when I’m on my pitch. I just ignore it. You get used to it. I think, what do you think I’m stood here doing? I’m not doing it for fun. This is a job. It’s a job to me anyway. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
Thanks for being a loyal customer. I couldn’t survive without you. It means a lot. 

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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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