Christopher Cross, Greggs, Whitley Bay

Christopher likes to do a bit of metal detecting and magnet fishing in his spare time. He's had some nice finds

Image: Exposure Photo Agency

Tracy in the Big Issue office really saved my life with the help she has given me. I’ve been selling the magazine about a month now and this job has really, really helped me. I had a hard time and I was homeless after my family kicked me out. Now I’ve come to Big Issue I’m getting support to build relationships with my family and I’ve good relations with them now.

I’m really thankful for the people in the Big Issue office. They’ve put me on my feet. They’ve given me a job and I’m self-employed now. I can keep my receipts from buying my magazines to show to the Jobcentre that I am self-employed. It’s been a blessing and it’s what I love doing. I’ve always loved talking to people and it’s just what makes me smile when someone comes over and I can tell them about the magazine. Even if they just come over to say hello.

I’ve got good customer service skills and I read the magazine myself normally and then tell people bits and pieces about what I see in there. I go straight to the back page normally where the picture of that week’s My Pitch vendor is. This week I was telling people about Christopher Eccleston running the London Marathon because that was what was on the front page. I sell the magazine from Tuesday to Thursday every week because that’s when I can get to the office.

I’ve also had a Tesco voucher from Big Issue, which is helpful. I’ve still got a couple of quid on it to spend. If I need some bread or something, I have it there to get stuff day to day. While I’m staying where I am, I’ll go and get bits and pieces like bread and cheese, mayonnaise and red onion and make some cheese on toast. It helps because the cost of food is going up. It’s hard times, isn’t it?

I live in Sunderland but before I was selling the magazine I was living in a hostel in Newcastle. It was horrible. There were drugs around – I’m not an addict and I’m not an alcoholic – but I didn’t like it there. I’m off that road now and it wasn’t always nice.

I’ve moved in with my really, really close friend and I want to settle down with her hopefully soon. It’s a one-bedroom flat we’re in at the moment and there’s not much room, you can’t even get a double bed in there. I’m hoping that she can get a council property in the future.

I’m hoping to carry on rebuilding my life over the next few months. I’m hoping to get a passport sorted too and get a gym pass, but that’s it at the moment, I’m really happy right now. I’d definitely like to start a business in the future if I can. I’ve no idea yet, I’ve not thought that far ahead. Maybe I could run the Big Issue office one day. You never know. 

I love it in Whitley Bay. My dad drove trucks when I was younger and when I was in the wagon with him he used to tell me how he liked Whitley Bay. I like it because of the people and it’s nice to be beside the beach.  

When I’m not selling the magazine I love spending time on the beach and in the sun, just relaxing and loving life. I also do a bit of magnet fishing and metal detecting. I’ve found all sorts while I’ve been out – coins, hooks, fossils. I find it really peaceful and sentimental. I like spending the time there and listening to the sound of the waves.

I’d like to say to my customers: God bless. May the Lord bless you and thank you very much for your support.

Interview: Liam Geraghty

Greggs, Whitley Road, Whitley Bay, UK