Jules Daniels, 48, outside Pilot in High Street, Leicester

Leicester Big Issue vendor Jules Daniels has enjoyed her role as a coordinator for The Big Issue during lockdown, as she negotiated with local shops so that the magazine could continue

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I started off with The Big Issue a long time ago when I had a partner who used to sell it. And then I did some other jobs – promotions manager, PA, negotiator and, for my sins, for a very short time I was the person who used to give out parking tickets. But I didn’t like that, it wasn’t for me. And I’ve been a customer services manager and a painter and decorator, so I’ve got a wide skills set.

That was when I lived down south. I had a stalker there unfortunately so when a friend, who’s like a brother to me, decided to move to Leicester for work he said, why don’t you just come and sleep on my settee and sort yourself out. So I did that and I felt immediate relief landing in Leicester because I wasn’t looking over my shoulder for the stalker. I felt much safer, like a weight had lifted off my shoulders.

I started doing The Big Issue again because I’d done it in the past and I thought it would start me off. Then we had the first lockdown and The Big Issue lost the office space in Leicester where we’d go and buy the magazines. So the company made me the coordinator and I had to ask the local shops if they would store the magazines to allow us to carry on. I asked Pilot and they said yes, and that’s how we’re managing to do The Big Issue as it stands today. I’m a confident person anyway so I felt being coordinator was a natural progression. Obviously the responsibility grew because if we couldn’t find someone willing to store the magazines then it would have affected many Big Issue vendors’ lives.

The move to Leicester has been funny because I’ve been here about a year and a half but I don’t actually know the city yet because mostly it’s been lockdown. So it’s still very new to me. The public’s amazing, very friendly, but I haven’t really been able to socialise yet. I’ve got five cats and I was playing with them when I got scratched and got an infection in my hand. And the amount of people who’ve come up and asked if I’ve been to the doctors, what’s happening… They’re genuinely interested in me and if I’m OK. That’s a really good feeling.

At the moment, I want to enjoy the summer with The Big Issue. We’re having this gorgeous weather and I just want to see where this goes because The Big Issue support everybody to do what they want to do and go where they want to go in life. And it’s helping the homeless, which is a major topic, so I’m quite proud really. In the future, I’d like to get into something that helps animals. I don’t understand why anyone would want to take an animal out of the wild, stick it in a cage and ignore it for 20 years. It really saddens me. And that film Seaspiracy – don’t get me started on that. Watch it and you’ll understand. I’m vegetarian but I raised my daughter to eat everything because I think it’s her choice. Now she’s vegan and she reckons I should go vegan too. I am leaning that way.

I had to leave a lot of people behind when I came here. Obviously I speak by phone but I wouldn’t have been able to visit anyway because of lockdown, so in that respect we’re in the same boat. My family’s from the North East, but I’d been down south for 15 years so I had a good, stable life there. But I’m enjoying it here now and I want to thank everyone who’s helped me here in Leicester. I like to take positives, not negatives.

Jules Daniels was speaking to Sarah Reid

PILOT, High Street, Leicester, UK