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Martin Clarkson’s Story

I’ve been selling the magazine in the Clifton area for the past few years now. It’s a really nice part of the city – lots of big houses. Before than I sold the mag in Plymouth and Cardiff – I moved around quite a lot during my time sleeping rough on the streets.

I do struggle some days. The put a car park here next to the Co-operative, and it’s made it harder to sell magazines. But I just have to keep going – some nights I’ll stay until 9pm to sell enough mags to help me get by. I must say a massive thanks to all my regular customers who have stayed with me – they’ve keep me going during the cold and the rain.

Things have been looking up for me. The Big Issue Foundation helped get into a rough sleeper initiative (St Mungo’s Outreach) which led to a little supported accommodation flat. From there I recently moved into a flat on my own. It’s been a big step because a lot the past ten years or so have been spent sleeping in park bushes and tents.

It’s strange getting used to a roof over your head, after so long on the streets. Getting your head around all your bills is difficult at first. I did struggle actually, but I think I’m getting on top of it now. Being able to go back at night, make myself my own cup of tea and sit down in a novelty that hasn’t worn off yet.

I first became homeless when I lost my job. I worked in a plastics factory back in Plymouth – it was quite fun operating all the crane machinery, even if it was a bit repetitive. Anyone, I lost my job in 2004, then I split up with my partner. It’s the classic story: you move in with someone, but when things go pear-shaped, you have to move out and you have nowhere to go. Things spiraled from there.

But things are looking up now, and I’m enjoying life in Bristol. My flat is in the Greenbank area in the north east of the city. There’s a nice cemetery in the area, which is sort of acts as a park to stroll around in.  There’s a place called the Mall Gardens down here in Clifton, down near the River Avon. That’s a very nice place to sit down and relax.

I enjoy reading a lot. Recently I’ve been reading The Three Musketeers, and before that I finished Black Hawk Down. I like a good adventure story – a bit of action, a good plot. Terry Pratchett is great actually – I’ve read quite a few of his.

Martin pitch is on Princess Victoria Street (Co-op), Bristol (10am – 6pm, sometimes on until 9pm)

Photo courtesy of Sean Malyon Photography

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