Niko, Aigburth Road, Liverpool

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Tell us about yourself.
I am 45 years old, from Romania. I’ve been in Liverpool for about five years. Most of that time I was on the street, sleeping in the doorway of a shop on Bold Street. I like to be presentable. I bought some shoes today from a charity shop. They are very smart. This is important to me. 

‘I would like to have my own kitchen. I like to cook’

Do you have any family?
I had a wife in Romania. We have separated but she will not divorce me. I do not know why. We were married for 20 years. I have a son. He is grown up and has a wife and a child. He has his own apartment in Bucharest.

Where are you living now?
I was sleeping rough on the streets for many years but I have been in a hostel for a couple of months. It is okay but there are some very noisy people there who fight, slam doors and shout. It is not possible to sleep there all the time. I do not have a television in my room and I would like to have one. It would be good.

Do you like selling Big Issue North?
I have been selling the magazine since 2015. I like it very much because I like to speak to customers. I am always smiling. I found my pitch where I sell the magazine myself. I spoke to the manager at Home Bargains and he was a very nice man. He contacted the office and said it was good for me to sell there. Everybody comes to speak to me. On my pitch yesterday I spent an hour speaking to a customer. We just talked. I told her about my life. She was very beautiful. I like women, especially tall, blonde women, but I am always respectful. 

What did you do when you were in Romania?
I was in the police for 15 years. There were problems. I went into a house where they were trafficking women. There was a fight. And I ended up leaving the police. Then I was a bodyguard for five years. 

Why did you come to the UK?
I came to England for a love story. A woman. But when I came to England I had no nothing, no money. I am very romantic. The story still upsets me.

Would you ever go back to Romania?
This is my home now. I prefer Liverpool. I prefer England. It is not possible for me to go back to Romania. I speak English – not very well but I do. When I came to England I could not speak the language at all. I learnt by talking to people on the street and by selling the magazine. 

You’ve hurt your arm. What happened?
I got into a bit of a fight with a man who was very aggressive. I don’t like fighting! I am a very good man. But I watch. I wait. If someone tries to hit me then I hit them back.

What do you hope for in the future?
I would like to get a new job one day. I would be a good bouncer. And I would like a house just for me. I would like to have my own kitchen. I like to cook. I make vegetable soup. I am vegetarian. I do not eat meat. 

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