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

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