Romania is a country where it’s very hard to find work. And if you do find work people aren’t happy about it because they say oh, you’re a gypsy. Also, the money isn’t good, I could maybe earn 300 euro a month for very hard work and it wasn’t enough to live on.
My cousin had been in Scotland for a long time and he was telling me to come here, saying that I’d find work and have a better life. So in 2015 that’s what I did.
I arrived at the station in Glasgow at midnight on a Saturday night. It felt different. There were so many people around, it felt very nice. I was so happy – I was in a new country and I knew it was going to be very good for me. Two weeks later I started selling The Big Issue.
On my first day I wasn’t nervous but it was a little bit strange. I didn’t speak any English. People were asking me, how old are you? Where do you come from? But I couldn’t reply. I enjoyed the work from the start, the people were nice and very friendly.
The Big Issue was a very big help for me. I realised that I could earn enough money
to live on. Back then my English was very bad but now everything is much better. We have a flat, very close to my pitch at Aldi. I can pay the rent every month. I can speak good English.
My oldest son Saul is in primary three and he likes school, he’s a clever boy. He wants to be in the police when he grows up. He likes the uniform so I bought him one to play in.
A month ago we had a baby daughter. It’s nice being a dad again but I’m tired. She wakes up in the night every two hours because she’s hungry all the time.
In the future, I want to stay in Scotland and keep working. I’ve tried other jobs like kitchen work and car washing, but there’s nothing I like as much as selling The Big Issue. I can speak to people on the street and choose my own hours so I can help with the children.
Greenock people are very good people, they’ve made me feel like I’m part of the community. So many people want to buy me coffee or food. They are very good people.
Saul is excited about Christmas. On Christmas Day we’ll go to my cousin’s house in Glasgow and I’ll take my children to see the Christmas lights. They’ll be very happy when they see those.
My church is in Glasgow, it’s a Romanian church. We go every Sunday with my cousin and my auntie and after that we spend the day with them. Other than that, in my free time I like to go out with my family or go to the gym.
Family is very important to us, and after Christmas we’ll go back to Romania to see my parents and my sisters. The last time we went four months ago but I’m looking forward to going back. I love it here, but I miss my mum and dad.
Photo: Louise Gault1 Patrick St, Greenock PA16 8UT, UK