How old are you?
I am 48 years old. In October, I will be 49. People tell me I look okay for my age, but my beard has too much grey in it, I think!
‘I enjoy talking to my customers – they ask me about my life’
How long have you sold Big Issue North for?
I’ve sold the magazine in Harrogate for six years. It’s a very nice place. The people there are very kind. It has been difficult to sell the magazine on my pitch recently because we wear masks now. It’s hard because I like to smile at people as they pass. I enjoy talking to my customers – they ask me about my life, how I am and my kids.
How many children do you have?
I have five kids – three daughters and two sons. My eldest is 29, and she is married and lives in London. She has three children. And I have eight grandchildren altogether. My youngest boy is thirteen. During the lockdown, he was off school for a month but then he was able to go back because we do not have a computer or the internet at home so he was not able to learn. All my kids have been to school. This is very important and I am proud of this. It is important for them, so that they can get jobs and do well. Everything I have done in my life is for my children.
When and why did you come to the UK?
I have been here in England since 1999. There are good people here. In my country, things are different. Things are hard. There are no jobs. When there was communism in Romania, there was always work, but there was very little to buy. There was no food around, no bread, nothing. Then there was a revolution and communism was dead and people celebrated because Ceauşescu was gone. But then it was all about money. Now there is plenty of food in Romania, but there is no work and no money to buy it. Also, I am a Gypsy. And it is hard to get a job in Romania because people look at Gypsies and they turn away. Gypsies are treated differently there. People are suspicious. They do not like us. Here in England, this is not a problem. I can get work here.
What work have you done in the past?
When I first came to the UK, we lived in London. I had all kinds of work from people who I met at church there. I did painting, decorating, building and gardening. But then I had an accident and I broke my leg. I could not work for a long time and that is why I started selling Big Issue North.
How is your leg now?
It is getting better. I have a big scar on my ankle but I do not have metal in my leg anymore and I do not have to use crutches now.
How was life in lockdown for you?
Lockdown was very difficult. We didn’t have much money. Thank you to the office for helping me and my family in this time.
And how’s life now?
Life is good now. Everything is good. I try and stay happy. I always say good morning to my customers. I am always happy, thanks be to Jesus.
Is religion important to you?
Yes. I go to church on a Sunday. For me, it is good. I do not smoke or drink alcohol. Before I came to England and before I went to church, I used to smoke, I used to drink. But now I do not.
Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you very much to my friends in Harrogate for helping me. I love you.