Graham, Marks and Spencer, Ashton-under-Lyne

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When we spoke last year* you were worried about losing your home. What happened? 
Someone gave me £500 after reading that. I don’t know who it was, but a member of the public contacted the Big Issue North office and donated the money to me. That meant I could stay in the house a few more months, and I want to say a big thank you to whoever that was. But yeah, I lost my house last year in November. Not being able to sell the magazine because of the pandemic meant that I couldn’t afford to keep up with my rent. It went to court and they gave me a date when they told me I had to be out, so I just left. My kids went to live with my mum and I ended up homeless. It felt horrible. Horrible. I’ve never been in that situation before.

Where did you go?
I went to a homeless hostel. I was only there for a few weeks. I had a room of my own, but I didn’t feel safe. The place was full of people taking drugs. This was over Christmas and so that was also really hard on me and my kids.

What happened then?
I got a support worker and, because I’ve got kids, I managed to get a five-bedroom house. We’re in there now and starting to get sorted although we still need a few bits as the house was unfurnished. But yeah, life is sound now – getting better.

Remind us why you started selling the magazine.
I used to be a builder, a roofer. But I fell off a roof and had a terrible accident. I have a really bad scar on my leg and there’s metal in there. I still get a lot of pain from that accident. That happened in 2021 and after the accident I was in a coma for weeks. It changed my life forever. Selling the magazine is one of the few things I can do now. I find it hard to do other work.

Do you still enjoy selling it?
Yeah, I do. Things have changed since the pandemic though. The main difference now is that people don’t carry cash anymore. I won’t use a card machine now. I did try it, but I had a problem with one and a customer got over-charged. He got his money back but that put me off using them. 

Tell us about your family.
I’ve got four young kids. Two are twins. Their mother lives in Wales but I’ve got custody of them – always have done. They are doing okay now. They are back at school, which is good. I want them to do well in school so they can have a better life than I had. I’ve also got a partner, but she’s got some problems with alcohol. I still love her but I can’t live with her. 

What makes you happy?
Selling the magazine. You talk to loads of people. It helps a lot. 

What makes you sad?
I’m never sad! I’m a positive person. Well, if I’m stuck in all day, I can feel down. I’m also worried about the rise in prices of things, especially gas and electricity. 

What are your plans for the future?
To try to save some money so we can get the house sorted out properly. At the moment I am sleeping on a blow-up mattress but I’d like to get a sofa bed. Other than that I’ve got no plans. I just want to keep on going and look after my kids and give them a better life.

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