Patrick, Fairfield Street, Manchester

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 43 years old and originally from London. I grew up in care but was lucky because I had great foster parents. I left them when I was 18.

‘I’ve seen things on the streets – things I never thought I’d see.’

How long have you been selling Big Issue North?
I’ve just started on a pitch at the back of Piccadilly train station. I’m giving it a try after selling near Debenham’s in Manchester since around October last year. Before that I sold The Big Issue in London, on a pitch in the West End near Oxford Street. I did that for about 10 years. 

What brought you to Manchester?
I’ve got children up here and so being here means I’ve got access to them, which is great. 

What do you make of Manchester?
I’ve been here for about 18 months now. I know what it’s like to get wet! But I like living in Manchester. It’s not as busy as London and the people are friendlier. They will stop and talk to you whereas in London they are all rushing around trying to get from A to B.

Why did you first start selling street papers?
I had a relationship breakdown and I ended up on the streets. Being on the streets in London was a bit scary. It was mind-blowing, to be honest. The things I’ve seen – things I never thought I’d see, especially the exploitation of people that goes on.

Has the state of homelessness changed over the years?
I feel that homeless has got worse. You’ve got all the politicians saying they are going to do this and that, but it’s totally the opposite. People think there are services out there for homeless people, but when you tell them the truth, it’s hard for them to believe. 

What’s the answer to helping people?
I think if someone comes up and says that they are homeless in a particular area, it should be recognised that they are actually homeless there. Because there’s a timeframe that someone has got to be homeless in an area before anyone does anything. In London it’s three years; up here it’s a year. 

Where are you living now?
I am in a hostel. It’s not too bad. I have lived in hostels before and I guess you get used to it. I just come and go and live my life. I try not to get into the hostel scene, the things that go on around me. I’m now on a housing register and trying to get somewhere permanent to live.

What makes you happy?
Seeing my kids. 

What makes you sad?
I don’t really get sad. I’m like anyone, with up days and down days. 

What do you hope for?
I would like to get a full time job. I’ve done a lot of care and support work in the past. I’ve done pub and bar work as well. I guess what’s stopping me is having been homeless and things like that. When you go to a potential employer they see things on your CV. So you have either got to lie about your past or accept that they will see things from your past that might leave a black mark against you. But I’m sure I will get there.

Do you have a message for your customers?
Thanks for supporting me and buying the magazine from me. I really appreciate it. 

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