Piero, Morrisons, West Kirby

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am from Rome in Italy, but I came to the UK over 40 years ago. I will be 68 at the end of April and I have sold the magazine for eight years. I started off in Liverpool city centre but I have sold in West Kirby for many years now.

Things have been bad in Italy. Do you still know people there?
Yes, I still have family and friends over there. I had one cousin who died from coronavirus. It has been a terrible situation over there.

Where are you living?
I rent a room in a house in West Kirby so there are others here, which is good.

‘I feel luckier than many but I suppose I made my own luck’

Why did you start selling the magazine?
I came to the UK in the 1970s. By 1978 I was running restaurants and for a long time I had a normal life here. We all have a story to tell and I have one, but I do not like to talk about it. Things were very bad for a long time. But then I started selling the magazine and in the last eight years I have made so many friends – friends who are now helping me out without me even asking. 

How are you coping financially?
I was living off my magazine income before the lockdown. I didn’t claim benefits while I sold it. I have had some money from the vendor crisis fund and Big Issue North staff have helped me get my pension credits sorted now as well. And I have had many people looking after me. I have had envelopes through the door with money in from people, Morrisons has been sending me food parcels and the staff made a collection for me. I’m not swimming in money but I feel luckier than many people. But I suppose I made my own luck. All that time selling the magazine outside Morrisons, I never asked anyone for anything and I still haven’t asked anyone for anything. 

What are you doing in your spare time?
I am not doing a lot. If I go out once a day I see lots of people I know and I get lots of phone calls and things. Sometimes I do a little translation work for a friend of mine. 

Do you like selling the magazine?
Yes. I try to get people to take the magazine when they buy it. It is important for me to feel that I am working and I do not want people to feel sorry for me. 

What are your plans for the future?
I am just taking it day by day. I think about retiring sometimes but I actually enjoy what I am doing because every day I get some satisfaction from being on my pitch one way or the other. So I don’t know. I don’t think I could retire and just be at home all day watching Cash in the Attic. I am not ready for that yet. 

What do you miss most about life before the lockdown?
Being safe. It’s like a dream really. I am sure many people think that it’s like a dream and one day we are all going to wake up. It’s like nothing that has ever happened before. It’s like something from a film, not reality. When I sell the magazine I see many people on my pitch and I miss them all. I do wonder how long this situation is going to go on for. I have heard that they have started selling the magazine in some supermarkets now, but I am looking forward to getting back and selling the magazine myself. 

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Big Issue North during the Coronavirus pandemic

We have taken the difficult decision to tell our vendors that they cannot sell Big Issue North on the streets during the Coronavirus pandemic, for the safety of the public and themselves.

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