Ahmed Hashi, 58, Waterstones, The Hayes, Cardiff

"Beating the drink is a battle"

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I used to be a carpet fitter before I started The Big Issue about 15 years ago. I had really bad drink and substance abuse problems – I was in a really bad way – and a friend from Newport, where I’m from, introduced me to it. It’s all gone from there really.

The Big Issue keeps me occupied and out of trouble as I’ve had a drink problem for almost as long as I can remember. Because I have something to focus on I’m not thinking about having a drink and that has let me get the drink problem under control – I might have a couple of cans in the evening now but nothing all day because I am out there working.

Drinking is something that goes through my mind from time to time. At the end of the day, beating the drink and substance problems is a battle and I am winning that battle and getting on top of it. Without The Big Issue it would be very difficult for that to happen for me.

I enjoy meeting people while I’m out and about on my pitch

I take the job very seriously. I’m out there every day and I enjoy the job because I’m a really sociable person and I enjoy meeting people while I’m out and about on my pitch. The magazine is great for that.

The Big Issue has changed so much over the years since I started, when everyone was a volunteer – I feel like we have a lot less trouble with vendors nowadays.

I’ve been on my current pitch for about five months now and it’s the best spot to sell in Cardiff, outside Waterstones. Well I say it’s my pitch, if another vendor is selling more than me then
they can go on it. We all work together.

I also sell at food markets on the weekends. I’ve been doing it for about a year and it is a totally different atmosphere to selling in town. I’ve got to know quite a lot of the market sellers and we’ve become like one big happy family.

I’ve got another grandchild on the way in about five weeks and I’m really excited

I have plenty of regulars on my pitch too and they are a big help, especially at Christmas as I have four daughters and one grandson – it can be quite a busy time. I’ve got another grandchild on the way in about five weeks and I’m really excited to have another!

Away from The Big Issue I just like to keep myself to myself and cycle where I can. I’ve had a council flat for a few years now and I like having a place to relax to watch TV in the evenings, particularly cartoons like The Simpsons and Family Guy. I watch them both every day like clockwork and they’ve become part of my routine.

I see a couple of my daughters regularly because they live down the road in Newport but I have one who lives in Manchester and another who is doing a PhD in Switzerland, so they’re quite spread out.

The daily cycle…

I do a lot of cycling – I go all over the city and all the cycle paths. It’s something that I’ve done for over 20 years.

On my pitch…

I’m at Waterstones Monday to Friday from 9am-5:30pm, Roath food market on Saturday 9am–1pm and Riverside food market on Sunday 9am-2pm

Photo: Jake Morley 

The Hayes, Cardiff CF10 1WB, UK