Gheorghe, Lidl, Warrington

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Tell us about your pitch.
It’s a good pitch. Sometimes if I am not there, people ask: “Where were you?” It’s nice talking to the people, saying hello. I get no trouble there now, but the first time I went there, a man said to me: “You should leave and don’t come back here.” But other people stood up to him and they defended me. They said: “That man is a nice man, he is very friendly. You go and he can stay!” I like helping old people to carry their bags or take their trolleys back. Some people do not have a coin for the trolley and so I have a token that they can use. And the staff in Lidl are also very nice and support me. I pick up the rubbish and keep the area tidy.

Do you enjoy selling Big Issue North?
Yes, I do. I have been selling the magazine for about three or four years. The staff in the Big Issue North office helped me a lot during the lockdown. They got me food parcels. That was a difficult time.

Where are you from?
I am from Romania, but I also speak Hungarian and a little Polish, a little German and English. I lived in Ireland for 17 years. I worked there for an Irish man doing gardening – cutting grass, hedges and trees. Then my wife died of cancer – she was in Romania at the time – and I came to Liverpool about five years ago with my children.

Where did you live in Ireland?
I lived in Galway and then I moved to County Cork. It was very beautiful there and sometimes I miss it. I had one house that I lived in for 10 years and my landlord was my GP. It was a very good place to live. Every time I had problems I could just go up the road to see her. When I told her that my wife had died she cried and her son cried. They were all so friendly.

Where do you live now?
I live in Widnes with my children, my mum and other family members. My brother lives very near to me with his family. It is very good to be close to everyone.

Tell us about your children.
I have three children. One of them, my daughter, was born in Ireland. One was born in Germany and one in Romania. Three kids in three countries! They are growing up now. My daughter went to Germany to live with her boyfriend and that made me very sad, but she was 19 and she had to live her life. But now she has come home because he was no good and his mother made her stay in the house and clean and look after her daughter’s children.

How old are you and how is life now?
I’m 52 and life is good now. I am happy with all the family so close to me and I can see that the children are okay, though my second boy, who is 22, has problems with his stomach. He has Crohn’s disease. He is very sick and he might have to have an operation.

Why do you sell the magazine?
I sell the magazine because I need to make money and I can’t get another job. I have a very bad back so I cannot find other work. I used to work on a building site and I was lifting heavy things and one time something cracked in my back. It can be very bad. But I can’t claim any benefits because they say I should be able to find work. I still do some gardening from time to time as well and I enjoy that too.

Do you have a message for your customers?
I want to say thank you to them. They are all very good people.

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