Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve sold Big Issue North for about six or seven years. It’s not too busy on my pitch but it’s a nice place and they are friendly people there. I’m 33 years old and I have five children.
‘I love to work hard and to help my children to get what they need’
Tell us about your family.
My eldest daughter is 18 and my youngest is a boy who is a year old. He is my only boy. My children are my life. I love them all very much. They are part of me. My eldest is currently in Romania looking after my mum because she is very ill. I don’t know how long she will be there. It’s very hard. I wish all my family were here.
How’s your mum doing?
She is very ill. I do not think she will get better. She had a heart attack and bleeding on the brain. I pray to God every day and every night for her health. She’s 58 years old and she is very special to me. She gave birth to me, she looked after me, she cared for me and took care of my family. I miss her very much and haven’t seen her for more than two years.
You speak good English. How did you learn it?
I didn’t go to school when I was a child and when I came to the UK I didn’t know anything. If someone was swearing at me, I didn’t know. I used to say “thank you” to them. And sometimes people used to talk to me and I would just watch their faces and say “yes, yes” not knowing what they were saying. But I have become a different person selling Big Issue North. When I sell the magazine, I have some customers who explain things to me and teach me the right way to say things. My English is okay but it’s not 100 per cent. Sometimes I don’t understand what people are saying if they talk quickly or have a strong accent. But as long as they talk slowly, I can usually understand and if I don’t understand I ask them to explain.
Do you speak English at home?
Yes, sometimes. My children go to school here and so they speak good English. They speak to one another in English and I don’t always know what they are saying so sometimes if they are being silly I stop them and say: “What are you talking about?” They also help me. One day I’d been shopping and got some fruit and when I got home I was so confused with the names of things: the apple and the pear and the orange. So my children said: “Let’s teach mum something!” One of my daughters wrote the names of each fruit on a piece of paper and drew a picture of it. Then I learnt the names of each piece of fruit with my children. So my children are like teachers for me and I am so happy about that.
How long have you lived in the UK for?
I have been here for about 13 or 14 years now. I left Romania because life was very hard. My family was very poor. I left to become a different person. I want to be a good person and a good worker and to help my family. I had to leave to help my children. I want my children to have everything that they need. I try to make everything good just to see my children happy. When I see my children happy then I am happy.
How did you cope during the lockdowns?
I got a little help from the office when we couldn’t sell the magazines. We survived. I made a lot of bread!
Do you like baking and cooking?
Oh yes. I cook all the time. My children’s favourite is macaroni cheese with cauliflower or bolognese pasta. And I love making big celebration cakes for my children’s birthdays.
Where do you live?
We used to live in a house in Oldham but the landlord sold the house so we had to move to Manchester. Now we live in a two bedroomed flat. I am looking for another house to rent so we have some more room, but it is OK.
What are your hopes for the future?
I love to work hard, to make money and to help my children to get what they need – to make the dreams of my children come true. Selling the magazine is good for me. I can leave my pitch for my children when I need to, get them to and from school and look after them if they are ill. If I am late starting no one shouts at me. Maybe when my children are older I will look for a different job but for the moment I
am happy with Big Issue North.
Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you to all my customers. They are very good people and very friendly. They are like a family to me.