Daiana Dumitru, Co-op, Ashley Down, Bristol

Daiana is part of a mentoring scheme in which she helps other vendors get set up with technology. It gives her paid training and has been a real confidence boost

I’ve been selling The Big Issue for five years now. I started because it was really difficult to find a job and I didn’t get any help from anyone. So my friends introduced me to The Big Issue. To be honest, things have been a bit difficult for me right now. It’s very quiet at the minute but I have my regular customers who help me. They try to support me with baby clothes, nappies and milk for my baby. Sometimes they buy me a coffee or something like that. 

I’d really like to thank my customers for their support and for having trust in me and showing kindness to me. I think it’s really quiet at the minute because maybe people are on holiday. Summer is usually quite quiet but when it gets to wintertime things pick up a bit. 

I have three children and my baby is eight months old. It can be quite difficult for me to manage because I have to be home to look after the baby. This is my only support, selling The Big Issue. I have my auntie who’s helping me with the children whenever she can, but unfortunately she’s quite ill at the moment. That means it’s really hard for me to go to my pitch any more because of the children. So I go whenever I have time, of course. It is useful to have that flexibility. 

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I was born in the UK but my parents came to the UK from Romania. It’s quite nice in Bristol, it’s quite a peaceful place. The people in Bristol are always trying to give you as much support as they can. I come from Manchester and you don’t really get that there to be honest – people smiling, for example. Whereas in Bristol you see that. It helps me build a place for myself. I live in Redfield and I have the park here – I’m here right now with my kids – and my friends are here. 

I live with my auntie at the minute. I’m not really managing to keep up with the bills and the cost of food and things like that. But with help it’s going OK. It’s really difficult to be honest. It’s really hard at the minute, having everything going up is horrible. The food prices are ridiculous. That’s why it’s important to have my customers’ help. When I have my customers coming over they know to buy The Big Issue, they help me with things for the baby. I have my friends and my auntie helping as well. 

The Big Issue is helping me towards a future where I might be able to work somewhere else. It would be very nice to know how to work in an office or somewhere like that. I’d like to know how to speak to people or maybe even just know the rules. I’m not sure exactly what I’d like to do in the future, maybe working in a cafe or something would be nice. But I’m part of a mentoring project called Equal to Equal, and it involves paid training and shifts working alongside staff in Big Issue offices. 

Mentors, like me, help other Big Issue vendors to do things like using card readers or getting the most out of their phones. It gives me paid training, an experience of paid work and builds up my confidence too. 

When I’m not selling the magazine I really like nature. I’m actually really interested in it. Anything like trees, birds interest me. I find it quite calming and peaceful to be out and around nature. It helps me relax away from things. 

Co-op Food, Ashley Down Road, Ashley Down, Bristol, UK