I’ve been selling the magazine here for a few years now. It’s a great place, the west end of Glasgow, and I’ve slowly built up a good customer base. I like having a good chat with my customers, hopefully breaking a few stereotypes along the way.
When I started selling, things weren’t going at all well. I had split up with my partner about 18 months after we had moved in together. My problems mounted because of addiction. My gambling was really difficult for a while. Then I was staying at a hostel and going through a lot of benefit sanctions, and I got really sick of all that.
My friends and customers have noticed big improvements in me since I’ve been selling the magazine
So I decided to start doing The Big Issue, earn my own money and make my own way. I think a lot of my friends and customers have noticed big improvements in me since I’ve been selling the magazine. At the moment I’m staying with family again, temporarily, and I’m preparing to start college this month.
I’m going to be doing an Access to Humanities course at Glasgow Clyde College, which will hopefully allow me to get the qualifications in things like history, geography and sociology that I need to go on to university. I’d really like to become a counsellor, eventually. With some of the things I’ve been through I think I’d have a lot to offer other people. In the meantime I’ll combine studying with selling the magazine.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Last year I was in the press after I bought one of my customers breakfast. Joe was someone who’d stop to talk and always bought me coffees, so I repaid the favour and bought him breakfast. He shared it on Facebook and soon my friends were saying, “Hey, you’ve gone viral!”
Another customer is the graphic novelist Mark Millar. We got talking when he was coming into the library. I’ve been a big fan of the genre since I read Daredevil when I was about 12. I actually got Mark to sign a copy of his book Jupiter’s Children. He’s a very down-to-earth guy.
Last year I was in the press after I bought one of my customers breakfast
Aside from earning money and helping me put my life back together, one of the best things about the job is getting to know people better. I’ve had great support from folk here – too many to mention. But big thanks to them all.
My hobby… Graphic novels. I like stuff by a lot of comic book authors: Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Warren Ellis. But my all-time favourite is Neil Gaiman’s series The Sandman.
My favourite place… The Botanic Gardens. It’s a lovely spot in the west end of Glasgow where you can start a walk along the River Kelvin to Kelvingrove Park. Very peaceful.
On my pitch… I’m at Hillhead Library, just on Wednesdays and Saturdays while I start college.
Photo: Mark AndersonHillhead Library, Byres Road, Glasgow