Ivon Sanwell, 55, outside Sainsbury’s, Green Park Road, Bath

“It’s stressful living on the streets. It would be great to settle down in one place”

I’ve been selling the magazine solidly since the beginning of the year. It’s been going really well of late. I’ve been slowly building up a base of regular customers and I’m beginning to enjoy my little chats with people here.

I’ve been sleeping rough since I came to Bath from Bristol last year. After Christmas I was very low. I decided I needed to really try to pull myself together here. So I started the magazine and slowly but surely I’m making it work. It’s given me a bit of money and my confidence back. Being out speaking to people has taken me out of myself.

I was very low, but selling the magazine has taken me out of myself

I grew up in Essex and moved over to Bristol years ago. I was in a relationship there, but things fell apart after I split up with my ex-partner. Although I’m sleeping rough, I’m beginning to establish connections with the area, and I’m still hoping to settle here. I think it’s a good place, Bath. People do seem to want to help.

Earlier this year I got my dog, Hank, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Hank’s a bullmastiff, and a very good-natured dog. He’s been brilliant – a great pal.  He gets so much attention on the pitch, and so many people give him food and treats.

DID YOU KNOW…

The Big Issue is a multi award-winning magazine, edited by the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) current Editor of the Year.

I like to take Hank for a walk early in the morning. The favourite walk is along a stretch of the River Avon out to the west. He gets so excited around the water, jumping in and out. I think he must have been an otter in a previous life.

Now that I can see some nice spots along the river and along the canals, it’s made me think of fishing again. I fished with my uncles when I was growing up in Essex, and there was a great lake just outside Bristol where I used to go and catch carp. When you’re homeless, it’s difficult to carry much around with you. Maybe if I can get settled, I can get some fishing gear again.

When you’re homeless, it’s difficult to carry much around with you

I had a motorbike for years and I travelled around a lot, went to all the rallies. To be honest, I’ve lived on my wits all my life – moving from place to place. But I think I’m changing – I’m calmer, more focused. I’ve managed to turn my life around. It’s stressful living on the streets, and I feel like it would be great to settle down in one place.

My favourite place… Henleaze Lake near Bristol. It’s a very scenic spot to the north of the city. There’s a quarry where I used to go fishing. Very peaceful. Very relaxing. The lazy man’s sport.

Where I’d love to go… Route 66. I’m a motorcyclist, but I’ve never been out of the country. Hitting the open road in the US would be amazing.

On my pitch… I’m outside Sainsbury’s, Monday to Friday from 8am until 5pm.

Photo: Sean Malyon

Sainsbury’s, Green Park Road, Bath
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