Kelvin Lloyd, 51, Pool Street, Caernarfon

A lot of people don’t realise sofa surfing is homelessness

I started selling The Big Issue after I left my job travelling on the fairground, which I did for nearly 20 years. I used to put the machines up, keep them maintained, collect the money and drive. I could write a book about my life on the road, though you couldn’t print most of it.

When I decided to leave, I went back to my hometown Caernarfon, where I ended up unemployed for about two years. And I got really pissed off. But I’ve got two sisters in Nottingham so I decided to go there.

I couldn’t find any work there either though, and ended up living on the street. That was my lowest point, sleeping rough, shoplifting and taking substances. It is hard, especially when you haven’t even got something as simple as a sleeping bag or a blanket for the first couple of weeks or first month. I used to take my coat off and put it over me because it’s actually warmer that way than wearing it.

I started selling The Big Issue in Nottingham then, around 2003, but soon went to prison for three months because of substance use. I’ve bounced back from that now.

When I got out of jail I came straight back to Caernarfon and got a job on a market stall selling fruit and veg with a seller I’d known since I was a kid. I worked with him for nearly 10 years until 2011. Supermarkets take all the little businesses away, and he couldn’t afford to keep me on anymore. A friend and I went round delivering food to takeaways, cafes, restaurants and things like that for another few years.

I’m my own boss, I’ve got my regular customers who stop for a chat, bring me coffee, we discuss whatever’s happening in the town and all that

I came back to The Big Issue in 2017 and I’ve been doing it ever since. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m my own boss, I’ve got my regular customers who stop for a chat, bring me coffee, we discuss whatever’s happening in the town and all that. I sell anything between 30 and 50 magazines a week.

I’m living in my mam’s house at the minute. I’m trying to get a joint tenancy with her. She’s 83 – if something happened to her tomorrow, they’d kick me out basically. A lot of people don’t realise sofa surfing is homelessness. They think you’ve got to sleep in a shop doorway to be homeless but that’s not true.

I like watching football and rugby in my spare time. I support Liverpool and Wales, obviously, and I’m excited for the Rugby World Cup coming up in the autumn. I’m a big music fan too – my favourite band is Pink Floyd.

I’d like to go back to Australia to see my older brother as I haven’t been since 1985. That’s on my bucket list.

It’s hard work to stand in one place all day without really moving. But there’s no point just standing there, you do always have to ask people if they want to buy it. But always say please and thank you and always have a smile on your face. It helps.

I get pleasure standing on my pitch talking to people. It helps my mental health – I got depressed before The Big Issue, sitting in the house doing nothing. But standing there talking to customers and being a part of the community, it just makes me happy.

Image: Glyn Davies

Lloyds Bank, Pool Street, Caernarfon, UK

The Big Issue

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