Where were you during the lockdown?
I was in a hostel in Gorton. It was okay. It was full of people staying there but there was hardly any staff. I felt safe enough, I suppose. It wasn’t the best of places to be during a pandemic.
‘I moved to be closer to my kids but they went back down south’
How did you keep yourself entertained?
I had to go out and buy myself a telly. I normally don’t watch telly. I hate it – it can make you feel brain dead. But I just had to get my head down and get through it, hoping that things would one day get back to normal. I also did a lot of walking too. I think I came into the centre of Manchester about a week after the full lockdown and it was weird, like a ghost town. I didn’t come in for a few months after that.
And how did you cope financially?
It’s been a real struggle. I got some assistance through the hardship fund that Big Issue North had, which helped.
What was the worst thing about the situation?
The isolation. Because I am up here in Manchester and all my family are down in London, that was hard. I moved up here to be closer to my kids but they actually went back down south so that’s been tough. I’ve been in contact with my family though and they are okay.
Do you regret moving up to Manchester now?
No, not at all. I was obviously upset when my kids moved down south again but actually I needed to get out of London and Manchester feels like home.
How long have you been back selling the magazine?
I came back to sell when the office first reopened but then I had problems with my knee. It’s a re-occurring problem from an old injury and I couldn’t work for months, which was really frustrating. So this is my first day back now, and I am looking forward to starting up again. Selling the magazine gives me something to do, besides making some money obviously. I was going insane not being at work.
Are you taking contactless payments?
Yes, I’ve got a card machine ready and so I will get that set up and will be able to take card payments. I think cash is on the way out. From my own personal experience, if I go and buy something now, I normally use my bankcard because I don’t like handling cash.
What are your hopes and fears for the future?
My fear is that it’s going to get a lot worse again and we will go back to square one. My hope is that they will get the virus under control and we can go back to something like normal again. Though I don’t think things will ever be quite the same again after this.
Do you have a message for your customers?
Just that I am back!