Victor, Bold Street, Liverpool

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 46 and I am from Sri Lanka. I came to the UK in 2002. I travelled by boat from my country and then I hitched across Europe. I lived in London before I came to Liverpool.

“There was a military ambush and everyone I saw was dead.”

What was your childhood like?
My father died when I was young and we were very poor. Back in Sri Lanka I was a Tamil Tiger and if I go home to my country the government would kill me because of that. I joined the Tamils when I was a teenager. There was fighting. I have a bullet wound in my shoulder where I was shot.

Were you ever scared during the fighting?
Oh yes. There was a military ambush when we were sleeping. It was very bad. Many people were killed. I still think about these times. Last time, there were too many people coming and killing, killing my brother, killing my mother, killing my sister. Everyone I saw was dead.

Do you have any family left?
I have one brother left alive and he still lives in Sri Lanka. I do have a son as well, but he is with my ex-wife. She left me for her boyfriend and she took him and I do not see him anymore.

How has life changed for you now?
I am happy in my life now. I like selling Big Issue North. My English has improved because I have sold the magazine. Because I stand there selling and I am talking all the time. Before I came to Liverpool I didn’t really understand any English. I could just say my name. But since selling the magazine people are always talking to me and slowly I begin to understand more.

Where do you live?
I live at my friend’s house. It is a good place.

What’s your typical day like?
I start selling the magazine at around one o’clock in the afternoon and I finish at six. Then I go home and I cook food. Then I go to bed and wake up again and start selling again. I sell every day. I like to cook. I cook everything. In my culture, we use a lot of chilli powder and it can be very hot. I like hot spicy food.

Do you like selling the magazine?
Yes. I have good customers. If I am not on my pitch they worry about where I am. There is a beggar who sits near my pitch and he begs all the time. Some people give him money but they walk past me. This makes me sad because I am working and I am proud to work.

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Big Issue North during the Coronavirus pandemic

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