Andy, Sheffield

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How’s life in lockdown?
I was a bit stressed out for a while. I live in a flat on my own and I felt really trapped. And I was sleeping at odd times, waking up really early. Plus I’ve not been able to go and see my mum, who lives in Lincolnshire, so that was upsetting me. And I’m missing my customers, missing conversations. When I get back to selling the magazine I won’t be finishing early like I used to sometimes. I’ll be there all day. I mean you don’t realise what you have got until you’ve lost it, do you?

‘I hope my customers are all right. I can’t wait to see them’

Have you accessed the Big Issue North crisis fund?
When they first offered it me I was all right and I said they should make sure other vendors who really needed it could get it. My mum has been helping me out a lot. But I’ve had a payment from the crisis fund now, for gas and electric. I ran out of electric and didn’t have any for four days. I don’t have a bank account so I have had to get it paid to another vendor who is going to pass it on to me. 

How are you keeping yourself entertained?
Well, someone has just lent me an Xbox, but there’s no power cable with it so I can’t play it! So yeah, I’m bored. And the telly is rubbish. I put some music on and do a bit of drawing sometimes.  

You’ve spoken about addiction in the past. How are you coping with that in the current situation?
It’s hard, you know? Boredom is what causes a lot of people to go back to drugs and stuff. But I’m doing my best, and if I need help, I look for help. 

Do you worry about the future?
I don’t know how we will get back to selling the magazine because we will still need to social distance when we are out on the street. And it’s going to be difficult handling cash. I know there are some countries where they are stopping using cash altogether anyway. I tried to get on a bus the other day and I only had a five-pound note but the driver wouldn’t give me any change. He said he would give me a voucher to use on the buses instead. What use is that? I ended up walking home. I would get a contactless payment machine but, like I say, I don’t have a bank account. And even if I did I would need to be able to get to my money the same day if people paid by contactless. 

I know you are close to your mum. How is she doing?
She’s doing all right. Her husband left her just before Christmas. But she’s living in a nice new bungalow now, in a really good village and she’s really happy. 

How do you think the government is doing in terms of dealing with the crisis?
You know what? Judge them after, when all this is back to normal. You can’t prepare for anything like this, can you? I don’t think you can blame the government for something like this and the mistakes they make – it’s unfounded. We just don’t know what’s going to happen. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
I’m looking forward to getting back. I hope all my customers are all right. I can’t wait to see them again. I also want to thank Big Issue North staff for helping me out as well and for keeping in touch with me.

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