Howard, Leeds city centre

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How have things been?
I moved into my house not long before the shutdown, which was a relief. I’m over the moon about being here. I was living in a bedsit before and it wasn’t a very nice place. I didn’t have any furniture when I first got the house but since then I’ve bought or been given a lot of things, like a settee and a TV cabinet. I got some things from local charity shops and then a lot of things from people at church and at a social club that I usually go to. The only thing I really need now is a proper cooker and a washing machine. 

‘I can’t wait to start selling Big Issue North again’

You stopped selling the magazine earlier this year. Why?
I moved into my new house and had a lot of things to do and then I tried my hand at working in a charity shop, but that wasn’t really my kind of thing. I decided to start selling the magazine again but then the lockdown happened and I couldn’t come back. 

How has life been during the lockdown?
Some days have been better than others. There have been some down days. My dad ended up in hospital at the beginning of it all. They tested him and he had got coronavirus but thankfully he’s better now. And then one of my nieces ended up in hospital with depression, which she’s suffered from for a while. She had a breakdown. It’s been difficult on my family and initially I wasn’t able to keep in touch with them because I had my phone in Cash Converters. 

Why was that?
I had some money problems just before lockdown, so I needed to put a few things in Cash Converters. I’ve got my phone, a laptop and a television in there at the moment. Once they are open again I can hopefully buy some of my things back and I have managed to borrow a phone now.

How have you been keeping yourself entertained during the last few months?
I set myself a target of writing a poem a day and I started off well but then it went by the wayside a bit because I started doing other things. I have got another television, so I have been able to watch that and I have a radio as well and I have been reading the church newsletter every week to see what people are up to. 

What are you looking forward to when things start to return to normal?
I can’t wait to get back in my local social club. They have been doing it up during the lockdown. I have really missed everyone there, though I have seen a couple of them around town. We were fortunate at the social club, because we had some money in the bank to keep it going during the lockdown. 

Are you hoping to return to selling the magazine soon?
I’ve spoken to the Big Issue North office and yes, I am hoping to get back to selling the magazine as soon as we can. When they start selling again I believe it will be cashless only. I have a bank account so I can buy the magazines by card and then sell them using a card machine that the office will give me. But I also need photo ID to get one of these machines and I don’t have that. I’ve never been abroad so don’t have a passport and I don’t have a driving licence. Apparently the office can help me get that sorted though and I can’t wait to start selling again.

Click here to make a donation to our hardship fund, funding PPE, photo ID and contactless payment devices to allow vendors to safely return to work, and to continue to provide financial aid for vendors who are still shielding.

Until we meet again

We will meet again

We may not know where

We may not know when

But one sunny day

We will meet again

Of this I am sure

Of this I hope

But until we meet again

Stay safe take care

And help one another

For we will meet again

We may not know where

We may not know when

But one sunny day

We will meet again

So for now I say

Bye for now

Til we meet again

On that sunny day

For I know I hope that

We will meet again

One sunny day

By Howard Newton

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