How are you coping financially?
I’ve never claimed benefits and never really managed to keep a full time job. I was selling scrap metal and selling Big Issue North right up until the lockdown. I have had some help from the Big Issue North office who have given me some money from the hardship fund. I don’t have a bank account because I don’t have any ID, so they have had to pay it to someone else to get it to me.
Where are you staying?
I’m living with my girlfriend near the football ground in Preston. It’s lucky I am, because she is paying all the rent and all the bills and we are keeping notes on what I owe her. By the time this is over I am going to owe her a lot of money. But if I hadn’t met her, I would be in trouble because I would have had no way to pay my rent and bills on my own and I would have been evicted and back on the streets.
What are you doing while you can’t sell the magazine?
I’m writing a book. I’ve been trying to write it since I was 16, but because I’ve always been living out of bags, the pages have always got wet so I have had to start again. I’m about half way through now. There a lot of things that I have forgotten about and when I remember them, I add them in.
What else are you doing in your spare time?
I’ve been jet washing the neighbours’ gardens and my mum’s garden. And I have been sorting through my scrap metal, like stripping boilers down and getting the metal out of them. There’s a lot of metal that can be sold in old boilers. At the moment though none of the scrapyards are open and the price of metal is really low anyway, so I’ll wait until things get better and the price goes up.
You’re very resourceful. Have you always been like that?
You have got to be resourceful in this current climate – in any climate. I have always found ways to make a living. I’ve never really had a wage. I look in skips, find stuff that can be salvaged and then sell it. Any money I have ever made has either come from selling the magazine or come out of a skip. That’s why I am going to call my book Weigh Below the Breadline – because my money has always come from things getting weighed before I get any money – like clothes and metal and stuff.
What stops you getting a different job?
I don’t like being told what to do. And I have memory problems. I used to work for a scrapyard. I worked there for a year and a half. But I kept forgetting to go. I would have to sleep with my work boots next to my bed so that I would remember to go to work. I have had this problem since I was at high school, around GCSE times. There was a lot expected of me and I got stressed out and gave up and didn’t do any of my exams. I have been to see a neurologist. He said it was my quality of life and levels of anxiety and stress that causes the memory loss.
How did you end up homeless?
I didn’t get on well with my family and I moved out when I was 16. I didn’t speak to them that much over the years but I have recently made up with them because now I’m living just round the corner from where I grew up.
Do you have a message for your customers?
I’m really looking forward to getting back to things as soon as possible. I hope to see you all soon.