AJ started selling The Big Issue in 2006 after falling into homelessness when he struggled to find regular work as a lorry driver.
The Big Issue offered him a steady income in between jobs. AJ said vending became a full-time pursuit when he was diagnosed with arthritis but he was forced to give up the role last year after he began to suffer with arterial thrombosis.
“I was homeless when I started selling The Big Issue. I had a few nights sofa surfing and it was in February 2006 so it was bloody cold,” said AJ. “I started ringing every advert in the news agency and about a week after I started doing it I managed to get a bedroom to rent in a shared house. Then I got a section 21 eviction notice and after that I was housed by the council.
“It’s all thanks to The Big Issue. My customers are great people and they were always interested in how life was getting on. I do miss them and selling the magazine. I’ve actually got phone numbers from some of them and we stay in touch. They’ve become friends over the years rather than customers.”