Casandra, Stretford Mall, Trafford

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 21 years old and I have been selling the magazine for a few years. After this last lockdown, I am going back to my pitch tomorrow and I cannot wait. 

What was the worst thing about lockdown for you?
Not to be selling the magazine. And oh my gosh – it was so boring. It was tiring and it was stressful. I like to see people. I like to talk to people. I have lots of friends at Stretford Mall. I am happy when I am there. 

‘I hope my customers have a great Christmas and they are all safe’

Where are you from?
I have lived in Manchester since 2015 and I have been in the UK for about 20 years. My family are from Romania, but they came here when I was about a year old. We were in Manchester for a bit, and then we went back to Romania for a couple of years and then we moved to Birmingham. We moved around a bit. I miss Romania – I still have some family there – but England is my home.

Which do you prefer, Manchester or Birmingham?
I like Manchester a lot, but I have a lot of family and friends in Birmingham and I miss them. I moved to Manchester when I got married.

Tell us about your family.
We have three children. The eldest is five, then three and two. Two girls and a boy. It’s been difficult during the lockdowns looking after them. My husband is a food delivery driver so he’s been busy.

And why do you sell the magazine?
I like it. It’s my job and we need the money for my family. I love most of the people in Streford Mall. They are like my friends, my family. They look after me and they come and they talk to me, they ask me how I am, check that I am warm, ask if I need anything to eat or drink. 

Does anyone ever say anything negative?
There are some people who walk past and say bad things. They swear at me and say I shouldn’t be selling the magazine and that I am lying about myself. When I see them, I sometimes go away and have a brew and then come back when they have gone. I just ignore them – that’s the best thing. You can’t say anything back. 

Has the Big Issue North office helped you during the lockdowns?
Oh yes, very much. They have kept in touch with me and they have helped me with some money from the hardship fund. 

What are your plans for Christmas?
I don’t know – staying at home and looking after the children. There isn’t much else we are allowed to do this year.  

What are your hopes for 2021?
To have a good life. To be healthy and to enjoy life.

Do you have a message for your customers?
I hope they have a great Christmas, and that they are all safe and well. 

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