Stephen, Marks and Spencer, Leeds

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I started selling the magazine when I was 16 the first time around. That was 22 years ago. I’m turning 37 now. I’ve sold the magazine all over the country in the past, including in London and Glasgow. I’m originally from Leeds but I’ve been all over. I’ve only just come back to selling the magazine. I wasn’t doing it for ages, because I was getting problems from beggars and stuff. And then there was Covid and the lockdowns and I had to stay indoors a lot. But I started again a few weeks ago. It’s going okay at the moment. I’m planning to work as much as I can.

‘I’ve been in my flat for eight years. I’m proud I’ve kept it going’

Why did you come back to sell again?
I came back because I needed the money. Everything has gone up in price, hasn’t it? I’ve no way of making extra money unless I sell the magazine. I also missed selling the magazine when I wasn’t doing it. If I stay at home, I don’t really do anything. At least this way I’m getting out of the house and meeting people and talking to them and stuff like that.

Where do you live?
I’ve got a flat in Leeds through the council. Before I got that flat, I was sleeping rough because I left home when I was a teenager. But I’ve been in my flat for eight years or so now and I’m really proud I’ve managed to keep it going. 

And tell us about your two dogs.
There’s Max, who has one eye because he had cancer and had to have one eye taken out. And then there’s Bailey. Max is six and half and Bailey is ten. I think Max’s owner got rid of him because he’s only got one eye. I got them just before Covid started. They were the best thing to have because for a start it meant that I could get out of the house to exercise them but they’re also good company. I love them both. 

You’ve got cerebral palsy. How does that affect your life?
Well, I walk with a limp and I have speech problems. But to be honest with you, the only time it bothers me is when someone walks past staring at me. That’s what I don’t like. Other than that, it doesn’t bother me. I just get on with it. There’s nowt I can do to change it. I fell out of a bedroom window when I was two years old. I died three times in hospital, but they kept bringing me back to life and then I was in a coma for six months.

What makes you happy?
Getting up in the morning. I get up at half seven and take the dogs for a walk and then I get on the bus to come into town and sell the magazine and that’s what makes me happy.

Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you for buying the magazine off me over the past few years and for coming back and supporting me again now. 

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