Joe, Prestwich

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Where did you spend lockdown?
I was in the flat, walking up and down on my own. I kept in touch with the Manchester office and I got some money from the hardship fund to help me out but it didn’t replace the money that I would make selling the magazine. I also missed my regular customers. I know that they were all asking when I was coming back to sell. 

‘I’m back on my pitch and it’s lovely to see all my customers’

How did you feel during that time?
I’m okay now but during the lockdown I wasn’t very well. I was very depressed, very down. I tried to commit suicide at one point. I went up on the roof. I was three floors up. Someone saw me and called the police and the fire brigade. The police were trying to talk to me but I wouldn’t listen to them. And then someone from the fire brigade came and put a rope around me and pulled me back. I was taken to hospital and spent a week there.

What drove you to it?
I needed some more tablets for my depression but I couldn’t get to the doctors to get them. I’m in rent arrears and I also owe loads of money on my electric. I was very worried about money. So when I was on lockdown I couldn’t take any more. 

How are you now?
I’ve got my medication sorted out. That helps a lot but I’m still worried about money. I work as long as I can but I’m not earning a lot. It’s hard at the moment as lots of my customers aren’t using cash, only cards. I can’t get a card machine because I don’t have a bank account and because none of the banks are properly open it’s hard to get a new bank account set up. It will be great when I have one because everyone is asking me if I take cards. Normally I sell about 20 magazines on a Saturday but last Saturday when I was out I only sold two and I was there for ages. I think that’s because people aren’t really using cash and they are a bit worried.

Are there some positive things in your life?
When I’m out working it keeps me occupied but when I am at home I start thinking about things. I had a girlfriend who died a few years ago and when I wasn’t working I just thought about her. But I’m back on my pitch now and it’s lovely to see all my customers. I’m sure things will get better eventually.

What are your hopes for the future?
I’m hoping for the next couple of years that I’m going to carry on selling Big Issue North, but I would like to get a different job one day. I was a gardener in Leeds and I would like to go back to doing that. I haven’t been able to do any gardening recently because I live in a flat. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
Thanks very much for your support and please keep buying the magazine.

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