How long have you sold Big Issue North?
The pitch I am on now was my pitch for years and years. I was vendor number 6. I was there at the very beginning when Anne McNamara and Ruth Turner started it from a small unit on Swan Street. I once got a commendation for stopping a robber while I was selling the magazine on my pitch! I stopped selling in 2000 but I came back a couple of years ago.
‘Buy Big Issue North – it’s a life-changing experience for the vendor!’
Why did you come back?
I was homeless briefly and came back to the magazine because I thought it could help me in other ways, as well as making some money. For a start it gives me something to do and gives me a bit of structure. It’s changed my life in the past. I have a life because Big Issue North helped me. They helped me get into the Priory when I needed it, they helped me get a flat, helped me get a job. That’s why I stopped selling the magazine in 2000. I know how it can change your life for the better.
How’s it going being back?
It’s all right. I’m surprised at how many people don’t take the magazine these days. They come up and give me a quid or two and then walk off. I don’t mind, but you know, it disheartens me because we’re not getting the message out about what this magazine is about. There are so many beggars in the city now and it’s a real shame. I know that the biggest part of people buying this magazine is supporting the vendors who they are buying off. Especially when you have got regular customers, they want to know that buying that magazine is making a difference to your life.
What else has changed over the years?
Things have changed a lot since I first sold the magazine the first time around. It breaks my heart really. I understand that Big Issue North doesn’t have the money it used to and that times have changed, but it feels like there’s not the same kind of support and things going on that used to happen. It’s not always about doing things that cost money – it’s about the little things, things that don’t cost money. I’m up for being a vendor representative to make sure vendors get their voices heard because I think that’s important. You know at the end of the day without vendors there is no Big Issue North.
Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I’m 50 years old and I’m from Clayton in Manchester originally. I’ve got two cats. One is a tomcat called Tom. The other cat is called Crumble. She is 14 years old. Crumble was a cat who belonged to a good friend of mine, a councillor in Salford. Before he passed away, he asked me to look after Crumble when he was gone. I promised him she’d have a forever home. Oh and something else about me – I’ve got a prosthetic leg! I lost my leg in a car accident about seven years ago. I was hit by a lorry. At least I am alive! I’m sort of used to my prosthetic leg now. I’m always saying to my friends: “I’ll be with you in a minute – I’m just putting my leg on!” I take it off when I’m at home and get around in my wheelchair. My wife is always telling me off because I do wheelies around the house.
Do you have a message for your customers?
Buy Big Issue North – it’s a life-changing experience for the vendor!