Auras Vasile, Waitrose, Leighton Buzzard
Big Issue vendor Auras Vasile started selling The Big Issue because it fits around his life as a parent. Now it has made him part of the community.
I’ve been selling the magazine here for more than 10 years. I like it very much, I have lots of lovely customers who have a chat with me. They ask me if I’m alright and look after me. Sometimes they give me a coffee. They know all my problems and when I am not on my pitch they ask me where I’ve been, why I’m not coming to Leighton Buzzard and what’s happening with me.
They even checked in on me when I was in hospital. I’ve had a few operations to fix kidney stones, the last one was a few months ago. They are very painful. I think part of why I catch this problem is because I’m standing out in the cold all the time. Whenever I go into hospital my customers worry about me.
It’s actually due to a couple of my customers – Eddie and Felicity – that I ended up featuring in the magazine. They asked me: why are you not in the magazine? I told them I didn’t know. They asked me a few times and in the end they contacted The Big Issue. They’re very good customers, I’m grateful for their support.
My customers know I have children too and always ask me how they’re doing. I have five boys aged eight, 12, 13, 15 and 16. They keep me busy!
I started selling the magazine because I didn’t have a job. I picked up this job because it was easier to fit around my life. I don’t have time for hobbies or anything like that. I just want to look after my family and treat them well. For that The Big Issue is much better for me.
I actually live about two hours away from my pitch if I got the bus. I live in Slough and I have a friend who drops me off at my pitch, that’s much better. I have a rented flat but prices are getting too high. Food is getting expensive, electricity is now getting very expensive, very high costs. The support is not that good but selling the magazine really helps me. It helps me to pay my rent and look after my family in a normal way.
It’s very cold selling the magazine in the winter outside. You feel freezing and you’re out from nine o’clock in the morning to five or six o’clock at night feeling cold and tired. But I try to keep going for my children and to keep my family going. When they grow up and they get older I’d like them to finish regular school and then find a job or something for them to have a better life.
I’ve been in the UK for around 20 years. I’m originally from Romania and it is quite different from the UK. It’s very poor there and there’s not too much money. But I think the UK is the best country in the world. Here the English people look after children, they look after people. They give them everything. In another country I don’t think they do that.
I didn’t know much English when I first started selling the magazine. I have never been to school in the UK. I learned just from chatting to my customers on my pitch. Standing outside and speaking to them. Slowly I’m getting there. I don’t think I have a really high level of English but I’m getting to the middle which is OK.
I want to tell my customers that they are very good people. I want to say thanks to them for helping me all the time.
Interview: Liam Geraghty
Waitrose & Partners Leighton Buzzard, Waterborne Walk, Leighton Buzzard, UK