Eamonn Kelly, 52, Trinity Street, Cambridge

"I’m set on a cocker spaniel – I like those dogs, I think they’re very intellectual"

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I’ve been back at my pitch for a couple of months now after lockdown. It’s been really hard, especially now people are being told to isolate for 10 days at a time. All the colleges are starting to close for summer as well and there’s not many people who are coming to Cambridge because of the virus. I’ve seen a few people again who I hadn’t seen in a while but not many. It’s been hard but I just have to get up in the morning and try again, things can only get better. 

I’ve got loads of customers because I’ve been here for years now. A lot of my customers will help me through my problems as well, and they’ll always have a chat with me. Even John Bird knows me very well as I’ve been working for The Big Issue for almost 15 years. The Big Issue helped me during lockdowns as well with money but also just if I needed someone to talk to on the phone, they were there 24/7. 

I think ‘Freedom Day’ has been a good thing. I know that the masks have saved lives, but, for me, I’m vulnerable so I’ve had both my jabs and the flu jab as well. I’m not really a nervous person anyway and besides I just like being able to do my job. 

I have a daughter, Chloe, who is 24. I’m hoping to take her to Ireland in October to see my mum

I’ve been meaning to get a dog for a while as well, now that I’ve been out of the night shelter for around 14 months. I’m in a modular house and it’s great having this place, I’m left alone to do my own thing and everything in it is brand new. When I get home at night I close the door behind me and it feels as if the whole world is just left outside. We’re only allowed one pet here though, and with lockdown I haven’t looked into it yet. I’m set on a cocker spaniel – I like those dogs, I think they’re very intellectual. 

They have a big telly in Cambridge city centre at the minute showing the Olympics, but I’m always on my pitch so probably won’t follow it this year. Honestly, the only reason I knew it was happening was because of that telly. I must be quite boring as I didn’t really follow the Euros either, I only watched a couple of games. 

I’m not into sport but I have started getting into reading crime books. I’m just reading one now about Ireland. I’ll read most days in the afternoon when I get back from my pitch. I’ll read copies of the magazine as well on a Monday before going to my pitch, so I can tell my customers what’s in it each week. 


I’m working every day at the moment to save money for my kids. I have a daughter, Chloe, who is 24. I’m hoping to take her to Ireland in October to see my mum, she’ll be 91 at that point. That’s what I’m working towards and why I’m working so hard. I’ve also got a boy called Jordan, he’s 27 and lives in Belfast. We will see him as well when we go over there. I’ve not been back to Ireland for about 20 years now. The last time I went back was for my dad’s funeral. It’s going to be expensive over there so I’ll spend the summer trying to get my money sorted out. 

I would normally speak to my mum every week, but I haven’t spoken to her in a while now. We are trying to get her settled in a care home at the minute, so I haven’t even told her we are coming over yet. 

My daughter has been to Ireland before but not since she was a kid – she’s more excited than I am for the trip! We’re only looking to spend a weekend in Belfast as Chloe will have to get back to work – she’s a trainee nurse in Coventry. But as well as seeing family she wants to do a bit of sightseeing – I’ll probably take her to Dublin now she’s older. 

I’ve been in England for a long time now, but I miss my mum and, of course, I miss Ireland too. 

Eamonn Kelly was speaking to Cachella Smith

37 Trinity St, Cambridge CB2 1TB, United Kingdom