John, 28, Earlsdon, Coventry

“One day I’d like to write a book about my customers. They’re wonderful people”

I came to the UK from Bucharest in 2007 when I was 18. I’ve been in Coventry for four or five years and it’s peaceful and quiet compared with Bucharest. Bucharest’s a big, busy city.

I found out about The Big Issue in Coventry and pretty soon I started selling the magazine. One day I’d love to write a book about how good my customers are. They’re wonderful people. They really look out for me and they’re always there for me.

The Big Issue is the best thing in the world, it’s helping to get people off the streets

I’ve got some customers from the University of Warwickshire, studying medicine. They’re really good to me and it’s great when I can help them out too. They asked me to help them with their studying, so I tested them before their exams. Sometimes I also do some gardening, cleaning and painting and decorating work, mainly for my customers. When one of them calls I’m always there for them.

The Big Issue is the best thing in the world, it’s helping to get people off the streets. Setting people in the right direction. John Bird is a man who opens lots of doors, he’s like a father figure for all us vendors. He doesn’t care about your culture or background.

Selling The Big Issue gets me speaking to people – customers and visitors. If people are lost in the city and don’t know where to go I can tell them. I’m like a tourist guide to Coventry. One customer even wrote into the magazine about me a few months ago saying I should be on the My Pitch page. And here I am, thank you!

Now I have a house with my partner and kids. I’ve got four children, two sons and two daughters. My partner Levintika looks after the children while I’m working and my older son and daughter are at school now. It makes me so proud to see my kids coming on like that.

Coventry feels like my home now. I’ve even got a bit of the accent

My children were born in this country and this is their home. Coventry feels like my home now too. When I came to this country I couldn’t speak any English at all. I suppose it was brave but I didn’t think about it at the time. I just knew I had to learn the language. Now I speak really good English. I’ve even got a bit of a Coventry accent. Innit.

The music I love… I like John Lennon and Eric Clapton but R&B and Jamaican-style reggae are my real passion. I particularly love listening to Sean Paul and Ke$ha’s music.

How I keep fit… I love sport. I run a lot and I also cycle. War Memorial Park in Coventry is my favourite place to run.

On my pitch… I’m outside the Co-op in Earlsdon, Tuesday to Saturday from 8am until 4pm.

Photo: Siobhan Elizabeth Photography

The Co-operative, Earlsdon, Coventry, UK