I started with The Big Issue in a time of crisis when I needed an income on the streets. I came to London from Blackpool in October and I’ve been selling the magazine since mid-November.
I was a labourer for a skipping company up north but I lost my job because of mental health problems. I also lost my flat. I am sleeping by the river now. It’s pretty rough but I get up every morning at 5 o’clock, have my cigarette, get my coffee, like a ritual routine.
The first month on this pitch was really hard – I was lucky to sell five magazines a day. But now I have so many people who walk past saying, “Morning Aaron” before I can say good morning to them. One bloke buys me a coffee and breakfast every morning without fail.
James O’Brien from LBC buys me a coffee every morning and he’s done two shout-outs on the radio for me. It’s boosted my customers. A couple of people have come up to me and said, “Are you Aaron?” And they tell me that James mentioned me on the radio. The first time he did it, I sold an extra 23 magazines in one day. I’ve known him since just before Christmas but I didn’t realise who he was until he introduced himself in mid-January.
I’ve got into photography recently. I also enjoy reading and write a diary every day. Once I’ve got somewhere to live, I want to see if I can get it published. It keeps me motivated. I’ve been a keen reader since I read the Harry Potter books when I was about 13. It was a bit of escapism from my childhood, which wasn’t easy as my dad was a drug addict. After that I didn’t read for a while, until I discovered the Lord of the Rings books. I just thought they were awesome and it opened up a whole other area of interest for me – mythology, war films and things like that. I’ve just read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which one of my regulars gave to me.
I’m hoping to get off the streets soon. Last month I took part in Pay it Forward; a new scheme using QR technology to turn The Big Issue into the world’s first re-sellable magazine by enabling vendors to earn extra income via onward sale of their magazines. It’s great because you get to earn extra money on top of the sales you make of the magazine. You never know how far it is going to go. One of my magazines has already been QR scanned and passed around over 20 times.