Robin Price, 44, The Coffee House, Weston-super-Mare
I’m indoors after 28 years on the street. There’s a lot going on in my life and I’m happy with that
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I’m originally from Weston but I ran away from care at the age of 13. I was put in the full care of the courts at six, back in the Eighties before the Children’s Act. You get put in a children’s home, you get beaten up then you try to tell someone but they hit you too because they’re protecting their colleague. I couldn’t win. I was moved around a lot because I was classed as a problem child. If ADHD had been around at the time I’m sure I’d have been diagnosed with it, but that’s another story.
So in 1989 I ran away to London. As you do, being on the streets, I fell into the trap of prostitution, begging and drugs. The only thing I didn’t do was robberies. I was begging in Vauxhall one day and a woman said to me, “Do you fancy a job selling magazines? It’s fun.” I went into the office and the staff made me feel so welcome. That was it, I’ve never gone back to begging. That was about 20 years ago and I’ve been selling the magazine ever since. I don’t think I’d know what to do without The Big Issue. It occupies my mind and gets me out. I’m not sitting at home festering over life’s problems.
I’m clean now and I’ve got my own flat, my partner Keighley, my doggie Tinks and my little cat Dude. I’m indoors after 28 years of being on the street. There’s a lot of stuff going on in my life and I’m quite happy with that. Keighley and I have been together for eight years and she really looks after me. Now we’re trying for a baby. We’re going through IUI [intrauterine insemination] and IVF. We’re on the second round at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol, and the staff are marvellous. The first time round when it didn’t happen was a bit heartbreaking. But the nurses said it was a bit like a practice run. It’s exciting but it’s a lot of pressure and I’m just trying to keep it all together. But sometimes my excitement does come out.
Now I’ve got a flat and I’m perfectly stable I think it would be a good time to have a child. I’ll be an old dad, I get it. But that’s nothing in this modern age. My own childhood makes me want to love my child even more and to keep them safe. I always said that if I had a kid they would never ever ever go through what I went through. About four years ago I reported what had happened to me but because of my history the CPS deemed me an unreliable witness. Now I’ve just learned to shut up and go through life.
I’m a coordinator for The Big Issue in Weston, and there’s talk of making me a franchisee where basically they give me the magazines and I sell them on to the vendors down here, which saves them paying to go to Bristol for them. Homelessness here seems to have got worse over the last couple of months. I think it’s because of Universal Credit and also because of drugs. I see the homeless people down the high street every day and it makes me see how far I’ve come. I’ll be straight up with you, there’s still a little bit of me misses being on the street. But then within a minute or two I look around at what I’ve got now and I just think, no. But it’s still there inside me.
Interview: Sarah Reid
The Coffee House, High Street, Weston-super-Mare, UK