Ian Coltman, 44, London Street, Norwich

“Being called granddad for the first time was a brilliant feeling”

I came to Norwich last September to be closer to my granddaughter. She’s 19 months old and she kept forgetting who I was between visits – it did my head in. I had temporary work as a forklift truck driver to begin with but that ended at Christmas so I started selling The Big Issue four-and-a-half months ago.

When I came here I couldn’t get anywhere to stay so I’ve been living in a tent. Winter was cold. I’ve worked outside most of my life – I wouldn’t say I’m used to the cold, but it helped. Things are looking up now though – I’m moving into a shared house and then I’ll be able to get on to the council waiting list. At least with a roof over my head I can put a bit of money away as I won’t have to worry about buying new sleeping bags and things.

I see my granddaughter once a week – when she’s with me she won’t leave my side. Even though my son’s there she wants to be with me all the time. If I walk off I have to pick her up and take her with me otherwise she’ll cry. She’s a granddad’s girl, and being called granddad for the first time was a brilliant feeling.

A couple of regulars who’ve heard about my new place have offered me crockery, pots and pans and other bits and bobs to save me buying them. There are lots of friendly people here. The Italian guy in G’s coffee van gives me cups of tea, he’s been really good to me. It’s nice that people care enough, and I’m appreciative. In this job you get ignored and abused but other people make up for it.

I’ve worked for 30 years. At 14 I did weekends at a scrap metal yard and I’ve turned my hand to everything over the years: oil rigs, power stations, building sites. So selling The Big Issue makes me feel better about myself and gives me a sense of purpose. It gives me routine – going out, doing a day’s work. Too much time on your hands isn’t a good thing.

In this job you get ignored and abused but other people make up for it

I’ve had some offers of work through selling the magazine: labouring, painting, gardening. People see you out there all the time and come to trust you. Now I just want to get back into full-time work and get my own space so I can have my granddaughter overnight and have money to do things with her. I’m waiting for my lucky break. But I’ve been here before so I know it’ll come.

My favourite place… My nan and granddad had a farm in the Yorkshire Dales. I haven’t been for years but I loved it. I’d like to live there, in the middle of nowhere. Nice and peaceful.

Music to my ears… I’ve been into rave for 25 years. I travel all around and I’ve been to Holland six times and Germany twice. It’s as cheap to fly there for the night as to get the train to the other side of the country.

On my pitch… I’m at the Co-op Bank, London Street, Monday to Saturday from 10am.

Photo: Ian Aitken

The Co-op Bank - Norwich, London Street, Norwich NR2 1HT, United Kingdom

The Big Issue

Sign up to get your FREE Doctor Who Archive Special

Celebrate the 14th series with your FREE edition of the Dr Who Special Archives