Sara, Sainsbury’s, Southport

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 22 years old and I have been selling Big Issue North for about four years now. I was born in Spain but my family was from Romania and we came to the UK when I was about ten years old. 

How’s life at the moment?
It’s okay – kind of half and half. When it is very cold outside I suffer because I have a bad pain on my liver. I am waiting for a liver transplant. I have been waiting since 2019. 

When did these problems start?
The problems started when I was about 16. It’s genetic. I have a brother and he is older than me by a year. He had a liver transplant in Birmingham and he is a lot better now. I also have a sister in London and she has the same problem as well. 

Are you getting treatment?
Yes. The treatment I had in the past used to really help me but recently, I don’t know why, it’s not working as well and things have been more difficult. Sometimes the pain is so bad that I cannot get out of bed in the morning. I have a doctor in Liverpool but the specialist I am seeing is in Birmingham and it is difficult for me to get there for appointments. It seems hard to get a specialist in Liverpool. 

Do you have any family?
I have two girls. One is seven and a half, the other is three. And I am pregnant again. I am happy for it, but it was a surprise. I am wondering how I will cope financially now but we will see. I have recently started seeing my ex-partner. I wasn’t with him for some time, but then he came back and I am giving him another chance. 

Where are your parents?
My mum is here in Liverpool. She helps me a lot. She lives with me and she looks after my children. She’s not well herself but she tries to help me. My dad, I don’t know. He is gone. 

How do you stay positive?
I don’t know! I’m still smiling. When I see my two daughters and I think about my new baby who is coming, I feel happy. 

Your English is very good.
Thank you. I couldn’t speak English when I came to the UK but I went to school in Liverpool. There was one other Romanian girl there who helped me learn.

Would you ever do a different job?
Definitely. I tried a different job just three months ago but it was really hard. Because I am sick, it is hard for me to stick to a different job. I feel dizzy if I stand up for too long and I feel weak as well. Selling the magazine helps me a lot right now. The money I make selling the magazine helps me buy things for my children.

What do you hope for in the future?
To get this transplant and then to get a better job so that I can give my children everything they need. I don’t want them to know how hard life is. I want them to know that they can have a good life and that they can have a good job when they grow up. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
I want to say thank you to them because they always help me. If I need something, they bring it to me. I don’t even need to ask. They are like another family to me. 

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