Carl, Sheffield City Centre

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 46 years old and I was born in Bradford but we moved when I was young.

How did you become homeless?
I had some family problems. I was homeless for about 10 years – stopping in hostels and things like that. I was in a tent for nearly a year. I stayed under a bridge near the canal.

“You feel like you’re in the way. I tried not to sleep on the pavement.”

Where do you live now?
I’ve got my own council property now. It’s all kitted out with carpets but I had to buy a few things like a television, a little table, a chest of drawers and pictures and ornaments and a Play Station 2. I like playing on that occasionally. It helps takes my mind off things. And I’ve got DVDs as well. I like fantasy films. I like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films and horror films with werewolves and vampires.

How does having somewhere to live help?
It helps me feel more relaxed. It helps me get my self-respect back that I lost when I was on the street. I feel like I am getting sorted. And I am not worrying about getting moved on all the time. When you are staying in one spot everything builds up to one side and you feel like you are in the way. I always tried to sleep out of the way though. I didn’t like to sleep on the pavement.

Do you feel confident about the future?
I do a little bit. I try to be optimistic, but I know things can’t always go right first time. I know things can go wrong. I don’t want to get myself into debt. That is something I have to be aware of. I try and follow the rules and do what I need to do and try not to think about what other people have achieved. I try not to get angry or frustrated about things.

What would you like in the future?
Once things are settled down and I am a bit more settled I might visit some family and let them know how I am getting on. I have family all over. It would be good to see my mother.

What was your childhood like?
I can’t remember much about it to be honest. I remember the back yard I used to play in. One time I went to a field and I was running around. I had a paper round. I was good at sports in school. I liked that. 

Do you like selling the magazine?
I have been selling for about two or three years now and yes I enjoy it in certain respects. It’s like a waiting game. You have to have the knack to a certain degree, but it all depends on the weather, and the situation that you are in. If people think you look too good, or have everything you need, people won’t buy it. Which is a shame, I think. I think people should buy it regardless of if they think you have everything you need. If I worked in a shop and I was selling a magazine people wouldn’t ask me what I have got and not buy the magazine if they thought I had everything I needed. Some people judge you but it’s better not to worry about that. I don’t judge other people. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
Keep on going, do what you are doing, and don’t let people put you down. 

Please note: this interview took place before vendors stopped selling Big Issue North on the streets due to coronavirus. 

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