Leventica Vasili, Waitrose, Henleaze, Bristol

Leventica has been with us for eight years, and is now hoping to enrol in some training to kickstart her career

I’ve been selling the magazine now for eight years and I love it so much. I sell to lots of people and meet lots of good people on my pitch. I feel good when I sell The Big Issue, I am speaking English as well and I understand everything. When I started selling the magazine I did not know any English, but I have now learned to speak the language because I have picked it up off people on my pitch. I have a lot of good friends on my pitch and lots of good customers, but not so many regular ones.

Selling the magazine over Christmas was OK. Being a vendor is different at Christmas time. My customers are very generous, but last year I sold a lot of magazines and this year I did not. But I want to say thank you to the people who buy magazines from me and love me so much. They give me the money to buy what I need for myself and my kids.

Change a Big Issue vendor’s life this winter by purchasing a Winter Support Kit. You’ll receive four copies of the magazine and create a brighter future for our vendors

It can be hard selling the magazine when the weather is terrible like it has been recently. Sometimes it means that I can’t go to my pitch and have to stay in the house and look after my baby because the weather is too bad for me to stay out, or it means that customers will stay at home too. I have to wait for the good days when I can go and sell the magazine. 

Sometimes my customers will do other things for me rather than just buying the magazine. I have a baby so they will buy me nappies. Sometimes they will buy me food so I can look after my kids. Big Issue helps me with that sort of stuff too. To buy clothes for my kids at school, buy milk, the things I need for survival. I know that prices are going up and everything is getting more expensive but that is no problem for me because I have lots of customers and because of the lovely people on my pitch. They help me all the time.

I’d like to get involved with Big Issue a bit more when my baby is a little bit older. I’m interested in training to get into work. Big Issue has something called Equal to Equal training which would give me the chance to go into workplaces after some training. 

There’s also the chance to do some paid work in the Big Issue office. I’d like to try that. I started selling the magazine because it was job that I could do and it would allow me to talk to lots of different people. I did not have a job before I became a vendor. 

Originally I am from Romania and I came to Bristol 22 years ago. I love it in England because it is so much better than Romania where it is very difficult to find money or a find a job. My kids were born here in Bristol, they are from Bristol. I don’t really miss Romania at all and I don’t really have family over there any more. 

I have a flat and I pay my rent every month, it’s a nice place. I spend a lot of time looking after the baby and taking and picking my other kids up from school. That takes up a lot of my spare time, as does cooking and cleaning the house. 

It’s very difficult to fit it all in and it means I can only sell the magazine about three days a week but I’m managing. I want to try to save money for the kids when they are grown up. I just want what is the best for my kids.

Words: Liam Geraghty 

Waitrose & Partners Westbury Park, Northumbria Drive, Henleaze, Bristol, UK