Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 22 years old and I am from Romania. The last few years have been difficult because of the virus. I have been very afraid. I was scared to go out and work, but I had to because I needed the money. But my customers have been really kind to me and have helped me whenever I need it.
How is life now?
Life is a little bit better now. I have had this pitch for three years and the people there are like my family. They are always smiling at me and helping me. I feel like it’s home for me.
When did you come to the UK?
I came here when I was about 13. I couldn’t speak English when I came here but I went to school here in Liverpool. There was one other Romanian girl who really helped me, and she spoke really good English. It felt very scary when I got there. I didn’t know the place. I didn’t understand anything or how to speak to people.
Would you ever go back to Romania?
No, not really. I don’t want to go. My grandma just died five months ago. I can’t go back. If I see the house she was in, it would break my heart.
Tell us about her.
She was my dad’s mother and she raised me from being a little girl. My parents spent a lot of time in England working so they could send money home to us. I came to England only when my grandmother was too old to look after me.
What are your hopes for the future?
I really want to have a new job but it’s hard to get one. I have very bad problems with my liver. I get tired very easily and I can’t stand for too long. I have a seat on my pitch which means I can sit down and rest when I need to so this job works OK for me, but still it can be really hard when it is very cold and I feel pain on my liver. I am having treatment and have medication for it but that is why I was so scared of getting the virus.
Tell us about your family.
I have two children – two girls. I hope my children don’t have a life like mine. I hope they get good jobs, proper jobs which are in the warm and not outside in the rain and the cold.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am a Christian so I go to church on Sunday and I pray always. This is very important to me. Everything I do is for God.
What makes you happy?
My two little girls. When I see them happy, then I am happy. And my customers are so kind with me. I don’t have bad problems on my pitch. And the people of Sainsbury’s are very good. They bring me coffee and take care of me.
What makes you sad?
When I go to my job and I don’t make money. I go home and my little girls ask me where the sweets are and if I go home with nothing they are crying and looking in my bag for things. I feel really bad.
Do you have a message for your customers?
Thanks to them – I appreciate them. They are like my family and I really love them. My customers call me Smiler because I am always smiling on my pitch. Even if I feel bad inside I smile. I just have a naturally smiling face!