Lavinia Neda, Cardiff

One day there might be a restaurant in Cardiff with my name on it

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I started selling The Big Issue as soon as I arrived from Romania in 2012. The first time was strange because I spoke no English and it was hard to understand anything. I could just say hello and thank you. People asked me how much my Big Issue was and I had to learn how to say two pounds fifty. But I sold four magazines and I thought that was a good start so I came back the next day.

My mother-in-law lived here already and had told us there would be good opportunities. But I didn’t know how friendly it would be. It was fantastic for me, people were smiley and said hello and thank you. This was something new to me. To begin with we lived in Newport with my mother-in-law for nine months but now my husband Daniel and I have a house with our son Narcis, who’s 10 and our daughter Raluca, three.

This is my home now but when I saw Brexit on the news for the first time I cried.

Sometimes I miss Romania. It’s a lovely country with a bad government. They don’t help people, they steal from the people. My mum and dad died 15 years ago, my mum had lung cancer and my dad had asthma. My uncle looked after me, my brother and my sister but we had a hard life with him.

He was always drunk and fighting. There was no food in the house and we had no clothes. When he asked if I wanted to live with him I said yes because I couldn’t stay with my uncle any longer. I couldn’t take my brother and sister with me and I kept wondering what they were doing. Now, my brother is in this country with a home, a family and a job. He’s very happy. My sister is still in Romania and she’s happy too. We all have family now, and happy lives. This is my home now but when I saw Brexit on the news for the first time I cried. Now my son’s asking where he’ll go to school if we have to go back to Romania. It’s difficult.

We want to stay here because we love it. The Big Issue has helped me to get my CV done and I’m putting it into shops and hotels. I want to find another job when my little girl starts at school full-time so I can help my family more. In Romania I worked in shops and I liked it but I’d enjoy any job that was active.

Selling The Big Issue was a good start to my life here.

For me, selling the magazine is very flexible. When you have children you can’t have a full-time job but on my pitch I can work when I want and come home when I want. I’m also part of the Pay It Forward scheme, where customers can scan a code on the magazine and sell their copy on to someone else. My customers look after me and when I was pregnant people brought me clothes and presents, and it helped with my confidence so much. Selling The Big Issue was a good start to my life here.

In the future I’d like to have a business, maybe a small restaurant. It’s a long way off, but one day there might be a Romanian restaurant in Cardiff with my name on it. But my biggest dream is to have a flat in Romania so that I could go back to visit. I want to stay here forever but if I had somewhere to stay and could go back to my country for a small holiday then I’d like to go.