How are things going?*
Things are going ok. I finally got a car, which I have been saving up for. It’s a Ford Focus and I bought it in March last year, but it’s off the road at the moment. It’s due its MOT and I’m doing some work on it. It’s needed stuff doing to it for a while, but because of the lockdowns and stuff I couldn’t afford to buy the tools and parts to get it done. It should be ready soon though. With the help of my dad, I’ve stripped the engine down and rebuilt it. I’ve got a couple of mechanics in the family, so I’ve been messing about with cars for years. My plan is to use it for work, to go and pick up magazines from the office in Hull and bring them back to my pitch. But the long-term plan is to go travelling around Europe. I’ve always wanted to do that.
‘I’m still doing well with the support of my friends and customers’
How does it feel to own a car?
It feels great to be back behind the wheel again. It’s really liberating. It’s so good. You can just jump in the car and go wherever. It’s a massive difference to how my life was some time ago – homeless on the streets to now back living in a house and having a car and making plans for the future.
How long have you been selling Big Issue North for?
It’s been about 15 years now. And I’m still doing well with the support of my friends and my customers. Things were a bit slow in January, but then it always is. The town I sell in, Beverley, has done okay despite the last couple of years. There’s a new shop next to my pitch – Street Eats. They are brilliant – they give me free coffee and food and stuff. They treat me really good.
Why do you keep selling the magazine?
I just enjoy it. The job centre are saying that I am not earning enough money and they keep saying I should stop doing it and get a different job. But I have found a job that I love doing and as long as I can keep doing it, I will. It also works around my health conditions. It’s a job that is suitable for me.
Do you think the pandemic is over?
It’s looking like we are coming out the other side, yes. It’ll be one of the things we will have to live with, I suppose. I was worried that we were going into another lockdown in January. Thank god we didn’t. Lockdown was a nightmare and wearing masks was hard for me because I found it hard to breathe.
Have you had the vaccine?
Yes. I’ve had my booster now too. I had to because I have a lot of health problems like COPD. If I had got Covid it would have killed me outright. I’ve got too many chest problems. I can’t take the risk. And my friend who I share a house with has chest problems as well, so we can’t risk giving it to each other.
How old are you?
I’m 49 years old in April so almost at the big one. I’m going to wind my dad right up and tell him: ‘You know you’re getting old when your eldest son is about to hit 50!’
Where does your dad live?
He lives up here in the North – in Hull. Most of my family are up here except my daughter and my mum. They both live in Wales. My daughter is in her twenties. We are still in touch, but she’s living her own life now and she only calls me when she wants something – ha!
Do you have a message for your customers?
I didn’t get a chance to wish them a happy Christmas, so sorry about that. But I hope that the rest of this year is a good one for them.