Estera, 22, outside Waitrose, Harborne, Birmingham

“Customers ask why I smile so much when people can be rude. But I love The Big Issue”

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It’s good to be selling The Big Issue in Harborne. I have quite a lot of regular customers and everyone has tried to help me as much as they can. Someone helps me every day.

At Christmas customers would bring me a present or something special for my children. And Easter eggs for them at Easter. The manager here at Waitrose brings me coffee and tea and lets me stand by the door when it’s raining, under the shelter so I don’t get wet. That’s very important to me!

I have two children. My daughter Denisa is four and my son Avram is three. We have a house near where my auntie lives. She looks after the children when I’m working. When I’m not working I like taking them to the park and maybe cooking a nice meal. I cook traditional Romanian food, my family like me to do pork or beef and we barbecue it. I love getting everyone together, all my family and my boyfriend.

In September my daughter starts school and my son will start nursery. It will be a bit sad – all day without them – but I’m pleased. They’ll have a better life and a better job when they grow up. Maybe medicine or something.

I’ll be really proud to see them learning, I’ll enjoy taking them to school and speaking to their teachers, getting good news from them! And they’ll get fresh air and make new friends. When I was a child, I enjoyed school most of the time. I tried my best to learn.

I’d like to have my own business one day

I’ve sold The Big Issue for four years but I don’t think I’ll want to be doing it forever. In the future I think I’d enjoy working in a shop or a supermarket because I’d still be meeting people every day. I also think I’d like to have my own business one day too, maybe a cleaning business or have a shop of my own since I know a bit about selling now.

Selling The Big Issue gets me talking to people and learning something new. Sometimes customers ask me why I smile so much when people can be so rude. But I love selling The Big Issue and meeting people. Every day’s a learning day.

My hobbies… I don’t have much time for films or books – when I’m not selling The Big Issue I do the cleaning and look after the children. Those are my hobbies really!

If I won the lottery… I’d maybe train for another job and when the children are a bit older we’d have a couple of weeks’ holiday. But I’m happy with what I have.

On my pitch… I’m outside Waitrose in Harborne daily from 9.30am until 2.30pm.

Photo: Nikki Cooper

Waitrose, High Street, Harborne, Birmingham B17 9PP, United Kingdom