Cristina, Birkenhead

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How old are you and how long have you been selling the magazine?
I was 32 in December and I have been selling Big Issue North in Birkenhead since 2009.

“I need to sell the magazine. I’m not stopping anyone else.”

How has the last year been?
It’s been very difficult. Everywhere is closed. People are not coming out. It is very quiet on my pitch. But my life is all right. My children are good and we moved house last year so that we could be closer to my children’s school in Liverpool.

Tell us about your family.
I have five children – three girls and two boys. My daughter Alina, who is aged 11, is the eldest. I have been divorced for a long time. I am happy raising my children on my own. It is good. It is better.

Do you ever have any problems on your pitch?
Sometimes I do. Sometimes people say bad things to me. One man came up to me and said I should go back to my own country. He said I was stopping homeless people from selling the magazine. I told him Big Issue North is for everybody who needs it. He doesn’t know my situation. I need to sell the magazine for my children. I’m not stopping anyone else.

Would you ever do a different job?
No, I don’t think so. I love this job and my customers and it is good for me because it suits my life. I sell the magazine so that I can buy food, clothes, shoes for my children – all the things that they need.

What was your own childhood like?
It was good. My mum was a good mother. She always tried to get whatever I needed, even though life was very difficult for my family. When I was a child, if I had just one biscuit, I was happy. 

Did you go to school?
Not really, not for very long. I can’t read or write – even in Romanian. I could not speak English when I first came to Liverpool. When I started selling the magazine people would walk past and swear at me and I would say “thank you very much” because I thought they were saying hello.

When did you first come to the UK?
I was 15 when I first came here to visit my aunty. I decided to stay. There is nothing in my country – no work, no money.

You’re always smiling. What makes you happy?
I am not sad, never, because my children are here. I am here. I am always happy for my children.

What are your plans for the future?
I don’t really know. It just depends on what happens with the virus. I just hope people start going out again. I worry about things closing again. 

Would you like to give a message to your customers?
My customers are very good to me. They always ask about my children and my life. And I want to say thank you so much to them. I love all my customers.

Photo: Rebecca Lupton

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