How long have you sold Big Issue North for?
I’ve done this for about seven years. I was 18 when I started and I am 25 now. I started because I needed a job. There was no other job and you have to survive doing something. I have also got work in a factory, but it is casual – for Christmas and stuff. When another job comes up I can take that up and stop selling the magazine, but I know that I can always come back here when I need to. Selling the magazine is not a permanent job, but it’s a good way to just keep going.
What would your dream job be?
It’s hard to think what my dream job would be. I’ve only ever sold the magazine and worked in factories so it’s hard to imagine what I might be good at or what I might want to do. I used to play a lot of football. That might be my dream job but I cannot make a living from doing that!
Did you go to school?
I did and I liked it. But I only went for about four years. We left Romania in 2007, when I was a child. My parents came to England and I came with them. I went to school in the UK and I left with some qualifications and my English is good, although sometimes I can’t understand what people are saying to me.
Do you play football now?
I haven’t played for over a year because I have been working hard. It’s more important to work and earn money to look after your family than do things for fun. If you lose a day’s wage that can mean £100 or something. You can’t just go out and play football and forget about your family. You have to work, otherwise you can end up homeless and on the street. You have to think smart.
Do you ever miss Romania?
I do miss it, of course. It’s my country and I am proud that I am from there. England is where I live but it is not where I am from. In Romania there is no work. Here there is work and it’s quite easy to get a job.
If things changed in Romania economically, would you go back?
Oh yes, for sure! We came to the UK to work, not for fun. At the moment you can’t make anything in Romania.
Do you enjoy selling the magazine?
Yes. I sell the magazine to make money because I have to, but it is more than just the money. To do it, you have to enjoy it, you have to like it. I like to speak to people from my heart when they come and talk to me. I have some good customers in Shaw, though I don’t think of them as customers. They are people who come to see me regularly and they like the magazine and they buy it from me.
What makes you happy?
Family. That is everything in life.
What makes you sad?
Nothing makes me sad.
What about the pandemic?
Well, that made me sad, but not for me. My family was okay and I had some money put by to survive. But I am sad for the people who died and who suffered.
What do you hope for in the future?
I would like the future to be like it was before the pandemic. And I would like just to keep the family okay.
Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you so much for your help.