Siva, Manchester city centre

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How long have you sold Big Issue North for?
I was selling in Liverpool for about six months and then I came here to Manchester. I can’t sell every day. I have some problems – mental health problems. Sometimes I hear voices. I feel like people are coming after me. In the past I have tried to commit suicide. The problems started about four or five years ago. I think I was feeling alone. No friends. No family. No one to talk to. 

Do you get any support with this?
I get mental health support now. I take medication and hopefully I will see a psychologist soon. 

‘I read a lot. I read about psychology, science and sports’

Why do you sell the magazine?
Selling Big Issue North is not about money for me. When I come to the street to sell I meet nice people, they talk to me, ask me how I am. I feel like there is a family around me. This helps me feel good. If I sit in my room, I am thinking bad thoughts. I feel alone. I take more medication and I do not feel comfortable. That’s why, when there is a difficult situation I come out and sell the magazine. It’s all about the people. 

Where do you live?
I live in Salford. I live in a shared house. It’s nice. Nice people. I have only been there for a few months. I have lived in many places before. I lived in London for 10 years and Liverpool for nearly 12. Now I love Manchester though. I think this is my favourite city. The people in Manchester are very special. I saw how Manchester people acted when the bomb went off at the Ariana Grande concert, how they were all queueing to give blood. There was a big, big queue. I have always given blood, but seeing this made me realise how important it was.

What do you do in your spare time?
I watch lots of football – all kinds of football. I love all kinds of sport and I read a lot. I read all the newspapers and I read a lot of books. I read about psychology, science and sports. I struggle to sleep. That’s why I read so much. I can be up early in the morning just reading. When I do sleep, it’s only for a few hours each time. Oh, and I am a very good chess player.

How old are you?
I’m 42 but I think I look much older because I have grey hair.

Where are you from?
I have an Asian background but I have lived in this country for 23 years and so this is my home. Where I was born does not matter. 

What are your plans for the future?
I have no idea. 

Do you have a message for your customers?
Thank you to all my lovely customers. Just keep coming to talk to me. Before selling the magazine I thought my life was finished, but it is not. 

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Big Issue North during the Coronavirus pandemic

We have taken the difficult decision to tell our vendors that they cannot sell Big Issue North on the streets during the Coronavirus pandemic, for the safety of the public and themselves.

This is a serious emergency for our vendors, and they need your help. There are three things you can do right now to help them get through this impossibly tough period.

  1. Buy our digital issue of this week’s magazine Buy
  2. Donate to our hardship fund, which we’ll use to help vendors in the most urgent need Donate
  3. Buy subscriptions and back issues online Shop Now