Albert Popa, 39, outside Costa, Covent Garden, London

"All my siblings are married with kids and I'd like that for myself as well"

have a great pitch here by Covent Garden and I have a lot of regulars. People look out for me here and come every week to buy the magazine from me and my Staffy, Tyson. I have been on this pitch for almost a year after having a break from working with The Big Issue for a few months.

When I was made homeless me and another guy had three dogs and we had to give one up. It was really hard, but Tyson has been with me since he was four months old and he’s now seven-and-a-half! I always make sure he has the best food and the best life an animal could wish for.

I hope that this year I get back on my feet again

When I was on the streets people would come up and offer me money for my dog. But I would never do that, he’s worth more than any amount of cash. He’s my best friend.

I am originally from Albania and came to London because of the good working opportunities. I used to be a chef at many different pubs and restaurants. 

I really enjoyed being a chef, but in the future I would like to start up my own business doing something completely different. I want to create something that everyone will like and enjoy. I have respect for each human being and if I’ve learned anything from this it’s that life is an experience. I believe in God and I believe that things have happened in my life journey for a reason.

I’m currently looking after my friend and his dog as he recently suffered a heart attack. He was my landlord, my manager from my old job and of course my friend. He has helped me a lot over the last 10 years and I am now in a position to help him because I’m getting money again. In life, good things and bad things happen to you, but you have to stay positive. The Big Issue is tiding me over in the meantime and I’m grateful for it as it’s helped me earn an income.

I hope that this year I get back on my feet again. All my siblings are married with kids and living in Italy. I would like that for myself as well.

I play the lottery but I haven’t won yet. If I won the jackpot the first thing I would do is buy a house, put some away in the bank and then I would support the people who have helped me. I would pay them all back, it’s as easy as that!

The best things in life…  I enjoy taking my dog for a walk when I’m not selling the mag. I also like Chelsea Football Club.

My hopes… I love travelling and would love to go to many countries. I speak four languages and I learned Italian before I learned English

On my pitch… I’m here Monday to Saturday from 8am until 4pm

Interview: Megan Harman
Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Costa Coffee, Southampton Street, London, UK