I started selling the magazine in Bristol in October last year. Things were not going great for me, but The Big Issue gave me a way of earning money and working towards something better.
I sell in a nice part of town and I work hard – I’m smashing all my own selling targets.
I’m from the north-east of Scotland and I had been working for a few years as a foreman on construction sites in Aberdeenshire. I was working for one of the big private builders, so we’d build new homes and also do a small proportion of lower-cost homes for the housing association.
I lost my job and fell into a downwards spiral
But I lost the job and fell into a downwards spiral. The decline of the oil industry has affected everything in the North East, including the amount of housing getting built. But Aberdeen is still really expensive to rent and live, so I found it difficult to survive. I thought I’d come down south where at least there might be a better chance of work – which I’ve done before. I thought Bristol would be a good place to try.
But I lost my CSCS card you need to get construction work and I fell into a cycle of sleeping rough. I was in hostels for a couple of weeks but they’re not places for someone like me who wants a clean-living lifestyle.
I call Bristol the sleepy city because it really only wakes up gradually, from about 10am. But it’s very nice and relaxed – very friendly people. I’m hoping with the contacts I’ve made here looking for security and construction work, something will come through. Ideally I’d love to get a house boat. I am an outdoors type and I love walking.
There are currently around 1,450 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.
Last year I walked the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way and raised money for Help for Heroes. The route takes you all the way from Milngavie, just outside of Glasgow, way up to Inverness. The views are fabulous but you need to be fit. I did a sort of power walk – 20 miles a day. It took me about eight-and-a-half days in all.
I’d like to do it again this year, depending on my health, maybe to help raise money for The Big Issue Foundation. I’m hoping the magazine will help me get back on my feet. It won’t be for the lack of trying, anyway.
My favourite hobby… Hill walking. I love to get away on a long walk – no radio, no TV, no distractions.
My favourite place… Ben Nevis. The views are amazing – they really blow you away. I was up there once when a thunder storm started so I had to descend 600 feet as quickly as possible.
On my pitch… I’m outside Fopp on Park Street, Bristol, from 9am to 4pm daily.
Photo: Rebecca BernsteinPark Street, Bristol, United Kingdom