Rahela, Co-op, Heaton Moor

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How long have you sold Big Issue North for?
I’ve sold the magazine for nearly three years. I’m 20 years old now and I was 17 when I first started selling it. When I first started, I didn’t really know how it would go, but I am a very smiley person and some people were very nice to me and they would smile back.

Why do you sell it?
I sell it for my son. I am a single mum. And I enjoy it too. The people in Heaton Moor are like my second family.

Where are you from originally?
I am from Ireland. I have a bit of an Irish accent which people don’t always expect. I have lived here in England for about three years. I came over here to look for a job and then started selling the magazine and I loved it. It is difficult at times, when it’s cold, but you get used to it after a while.

Would you do anything else for work?
At the moment, no. Until my son is a bit older, I’ll keep doing this. He’s only 15 months old and this job is flexible for me and it’s close to home. I live about15 minutes away by bus, so I can come and go as I need to look after him.

What makes you happy?
My son makes me happy, and seeing my regular customers. I love helping them out, especially older people. I can’t sit there and just watch people struggling. I have to help.

Do you have any other family?
My mum and dad live in Ireland. They are not very well. They are both sick. When I was 16, I dropped out of school to help them out but it was okay. I actually love working. I try and help my parents out as much as I can, but it is hard. I live with my aunty at the moment. She is really helpful to me. She’s always there to help with my son.

Where in Ireland are they?
Kildare. It’s in the south. It is very beautiful there and I do miss it sometimes. But it’s quite expensive, which makes life even harder for my parents.

What do you hope for in the future?
I’m not very focused on that at the moment. I’m more focused on my son and making sure that he doesn’t have the kind of problems in his life that I had. I want him to have a full education and get a good job.

Do you have any plans for this year? 
I can’t afford a holiday at the moment, but I would love to be able to afford to go back and see my parents.

Do you have a message for your customers?
I just want to say thank you to all of my customers. They are always there for me, no matter what. I hope they all have a good year.

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