Adam Lawson, 49, Co-op, Currie, near Edinburgh

Adam has been selling The Big Issue on and off since the 1990s, but is finding it tough with the streets so quiet. Luckily, his community has been helping him through it

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I first became homeless when I was 21. My granny had taken me in when I was 16 and I lived with her until I was 21 when she passed away. That was my first experience of sleeping rough. I’d lost my job on the oil rigs and I had no money. You’ve got to remember that back in those days homelessness was a whole different thing. Nobody had really heard of it, there was no help. I went to the council but they said they couldn’t do anything and so I spent eight years thinking I couldn’t get a council house. Now I’ve had a house here in Currie for about five years.

At one stage I was begging and The Big Issue approached me and explained that they were doing this new thing and asked if I would like to try it. I said no at first but when they came back and asked again I said yeah. This was back in the Nineties and I’ve been selling it off and on since then. It’s been terrible since the coronavirus started, it was going a bit better while the virus had abated but now this new lockdown’s come about it’s going to be tough again. I think for the safety of the public it’s the way to go, but personally for me it’s a nippy thing. I have to thank The Big Issue though for giving me my new phone and my card reader, because it’s really wonderful.

When I’m on my pitch I speak to maybe 200 people a week that I know by name. They’re more of a friend than a punter.

The people here are wonderful, they look out for me big time. They like me and I never have to worry about my bike being stolen because they’d never thieve from me. They were dead good to me in lockdown, giving me boxes of food and cash and clothes. It’s not just the money, it’s the other things. The friendship. One lady buys me chocolate all the time. It’s all little things I’d have to spend my earnings on, so it’s helpful.

I’ve got bad ribs just now, I fell off my bike. It was just a pushbike accident, I’m not moaning about it because I love cycling. It’s mostly road miles I do – all the way into town to get my magazines. It’s downhill all the way to Edinburgh and uphill all the way home unfortunately. It’s about eight miles each way and I do it two or three times a day so I’m definitely fitter. I can make it up the hill now in one go. It’s like meditation for me, it clears my mind. Gives me time for deep thoughts.

Cycling has been a big help to me. My mum died two years ago and my dog died a month later. He was an American bulldog called Dozer and he was my best pal. He meant a lot to me. I might need a guide dog soon as my eyesight’s got really bad. Somebody attacked me once, kicked me in the eyes when I was on the ground and now I can’t even read the time on my watch. I used to paint figures, little models from Dungeons and Dragons, but my eyesight’s just not up to it. I still love all that kind of thing but I haven’t done it for a few years.

I wear glasses all the time but they’re not good enough to cope with painting models, the figures are quite minute in their detail. I was pretty good at it though. I always thought when I came off the streets I could make a living at it but that never happened. So a guide dog would be good, because even though I get around fine at the moment, losing your sight is a dodgy issue. But saying that, five years ago they told me I’d be blind in five years. So who’s to say.

Photo: Connor Mollison

Co-op Food, Corslet Place, Currie, UK