James Davis, 37, Waterstones, Cardiff

Cardiff Big Issue vendor James Davis talks red weather warnings, following the Six Nations and getting fit to play football

I’ve moved to this pitch outside Waterstones after us vendors had to stop selling because of the pandemic. Previously I was at the Old Library in Cardiff so I’ve not moved far. It really wasn’t a good time when I wasn’t able to sell the magazine – my mental health got a lot worse, particularly my depression. The Big Issue supported me with food vouchers and that helped a lot too because money was tight. I was able to get some support from my friends and my girlfriend Angel, too. I’ve known her since she was 23 and she’s 41 now. We’ve been together for nine months and she’s been a big help. I like to take her out for food when I can.

It is picking up on my pitch now and it was particularly busy during half-term holidays the other week, there were a lot more shoppers out and about. I like it here and I’ve managed to get quite a few regular customers. It’s nice to have their support because sometimes they are there with a bit of food and a cup of tea as well as buying the magazine.

I’m originally from Yeovil but I came to Cardiff in 2004 to live with my auntie. Eventually we started arguing and the relationship broke down and I was homeless. I started selling The Big Issue in 2014 mainly because I was getting bored every day so I thought I’d give it a try. At that time I was going through a really bad patch. My mental health was up and down and so was my anxiety and depression. I do like it in Cardiff, it is a lovely city with lovely people and I have been able to meet a lot of them while selling The Big Issue. That’s one of the reasons why I like selling the magazine. I see about 10 people I know every time I walk to my pitch and I enjoy meeting new people even if it makes me nervous. We had a red warning for strong winds in the recent storms in Wales and it was pretty blustery. I thought it might have been worse to be honest. I had to take a couple of days off selling but nothing big blew down near me thankfully.

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Last time I did an interview with The Big Issue in 2019, I didn’t have a bank account. The Big Issue and my girlfriend helped me get one and it has made a big difference to my life. I used to carry the money I earned from magazine sales around with me and it made me feel like a bit of a target. I like knowing that it is safe in the bank and even that has helped me to be more confident. I also just got a card reader a few weeks ago. It was simple to sort out and it has made selling easier because not many people carry cash now and everything’s on card.

I’ve got a flat now just down the road from the Cardiff City Stadium and I’m a big fan of the football team. They’ve not been that good this season but hopefully they’ll stay up. I play football myself and used to play for The Big Issue in the Street Football Wales league but I haven’t recently because of the bad weather we’ve been having and I injured my knee at the end of last year during a game. I do miss it to be honest. I’m also into rugby and I’ve been following the Six Nations.

For now, I just want to concentrate on selling The Big Issue this year, and my message to my customers is keep on buying the magazine!

Interview: Liam Geraghty

Waterstones, The Hayes, Saint Davids Centre, Cardiff, UK

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