You’re back on your pitch, selling the magazine. How’s it going?
Things are a bit of a struggle to be honest. It was very quiet in Wigan, but it’s now getting back to normal, hopefully. A lot of my customers haven’t come out – whether they are scared, they are ill, or not working I don’t know. I still see a few regular customers who are coming to buy the magazine from me and who are supporting me. Also I’m using the contactless payment card machine. That does help.
‘My customers are like my family. I have been missing them’
Are people paying by card?
A few people use it, but it’s only people who really trust me that come to buy with a card. Other people aren’t so sure. It’s a good thing we have them though as then people don’t have have the excuse of not having any cash on them and a lot of people don’t seem to carry cash anymore. It’s going to take a little time until people know that we can take cards because when people hear that I have a card machine they often laugh and can’t believe that a vendor would take cards.
Where do you live?
I live in a shared house with my son, Luca, who is nearly seven, and with another lady and her children.
How was life in lockdown?
It was a real struggle. Money was difficult. I had to get some money from Universal Credit and get a loan from them to help me manage, and the Big Issue North office helped me with the crisis fund – a little bit of money every week or two weeks to buy things we needed. It was difficult with my son off school as well. But we had no choice. We just had to manage. We did in the end, so thank God for that.
What did you do to keep you and your son entertained?
Cooking, playing in the back yard a bit, and spending some time with my son studying because he was off school and they sent work for him to do at home. We tried to spend some time each day learning. I was worried about his English suffering when he was at home during the lockdown. He couldn’t speak a word of English when he first started going to school a few years ago but now his English is better than mine and he teaches me new words all the time.
How did you learn English?
I couldn’t speak English when I came to the UK. I learnt by communicating with the people. Selling Big Issue North has been helping me a lot. That’s how I learnt English, to be honest. I learnt from the people I met on my pitch who taught me while I was selling. I’m so thankful for their help.
What’s the best thing about being back selling?
I’m glad to be earning a bit of money and also I’ve been feeling alone during the lockdown because I have been missing my friends, my customers. I have been on this pitch for nearly seven years and my customers are like my family and I have been missing them a lot. I just feel better to be back.
Do you feel safe out on the street?
Yes, I feel safe. Sometimes I wear a mask, though it is difficult to keep wearing it. What can we do? We can’t just hide inside, can we? I worry about the future. They keep saying about another lockdown, and I don’t think we could cope with that. I just hope things will get back to normal one day.
What would you like to do when your son grows up?
Well, I am 24 soon. I am getting old! But to be honest, I don’t know. I never really look at the future. I just live in the present. My life has been a struggle. I didn’t plan what is going to happen but I am hoping that once he is older I can get another job and we can get on our feet and have a better life.
Do you have a message for your customers?
I want to say I am so thankful to come back and I am glad to see them all. And I want to say thanks to them from all my heart, because they have been supporting me and they have been so nice to me and helping me for so many years.