Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 39 in September. I sell Big Issue North with my wife. We sell it because this is our job.
Where were you born?
I was born in a caravan in Romania. I am Roma. My parents used to travel with a horse and cart. They used to travel all over the place and my dad would do metalwork, making cups and plates and things, and trade his craft for food.
Did you enjoy your childhood?
To be honest, I did. I miss that childhood. It was freedom, no stress. At night my parents would do a big fire and cook the food that they had managed to get that day. Sometimes we would be outside and see the sky and we would count the stars. It was a lovely childhood but that was our culture. My parents came to the UK in 1999 for a better life and I liked it here and I wanted to settle down. In 2003 my parents were deported but I remained here in the UK. I didn’t want to do any more travelling.
What was that like?
I was still a teenager when they were deported and it was very hard for me. I was in London, and I was begging on the streets and I was homeless. Life on the streets was not easy.
How did you end up in Macclesfield?
There were some bad people in London who took advantage of me. They kept giving me drugs and I owed them money. Then they kept adding interest so I could never pay them back. I was in a gang with some other people on the streets and they were sort of a family for me, but it was a difficult life. I was beaten badly because I didn’t pay some debts on time and I ended up in hospital.
I didn’t want to talk to the police about it because I thought there would be more problems for me, so I decided to run away. I went first to Birmingham and then I came to Manchester. When I arrived here, I was begging on the streets again, but I saw someone selling Big Issue North and I thought I should try and do that. I went to the office and they gave me some free magazines to help me start selling. I started connecting with selling the magazine and I started to love it. For me it was a business.
After some time in the city centre, I was offered a pitch in Macclesfield. And because I was working, I could rent a place and at last I had a roof over my head and then I met my wife and so my life started. Now I have a family. Big Issue North has helped me so much. It has given me hope.
Would you ever do a different job?
I have applied for a lot of different jobs. The problem is that I have never been to school because we used to travel from place to place. My spoken English is good – I learnt it on the streets – but my reading and writing is not so good and my maths is not good either. I realised when we came to the UK that going to school is important and that if you have an education then life will be easier for the future.
How is life now?
Now life is good though we have problems with the house we are renting. The landlord has sold it and we have to move out, but we do not have anywhere to go. To rent a new house is so expensive. People want things like six months’ rent in advance! We have done an application to the council to get a house and I hope we will hear something soon. But my wife and I work hard for our children now, so that they can have a better life. And my children are well educated and are doing well at school so that is good.
Do you still keep in touch with your parents?
I don’t know where they are. They are still travelling. One day I hope my children will meet them.
Do you have a message for your customers?
I just want to thank everyone for supporting the magazine. Every time they buy a magazine from me, they are helping me and my family.