I started selling the magazine in Bournemouth just over a year ago. It’s been going really well. It took time to build up regular customers but now I’m enjoying it. Some days are hard, but having a bit of a chat with people keeps me going.
Before coming here I was living in London, but I had to leave my job there. Things were tough so I decided to come back to Bournemouth, a place I had fond memories of because I’d lived here quite happily many years ago.
Having a bit of a chat with people keeps me going
I arrived without very much, and I soon found myself sleeping rough in a car park. I got myself a tent and began staying in a forested area just outside of town. I was becoming quite isolated and thought selling The Big Issue would do me some good. It certainly helped me earn some money, and slowly but surely it helped me regain my confidence.
Recently I moved into a room in a shared house, thanks to money I’d saved up from The Big Issue. It’s okay – it’s getting me through things for now. It’s nice to have a roof over my head again and to be able to watch football and snooker again on a telly.
Last year, 27,000 people worldwide earned an income selling street papers, making a total of £23.4 million.
I’m a big football fan, and I was one of the vendors who sold a special edition of The Big Issue as Southampton FC’s programme outside the ground at their first home game of the season. As part of the club’s partnership with The Big Issue, vendors can join an employability course. Me and another vendor visited the training ground and met a couple of the players.
It was a great experience – once in a lifetime. The players were really down-to-earth. I mentioned the fact I was actually an Arsenal fan and they just chuckled.
I had another weird experience recently. One of my customers, a painter called Harriet Muller, thought I looked like a patron saint she was interested in. So she used my portrait for her painting of St Jude (above), which is now hanging in the Sacred Heart Church. It was strange but nice to see it. I thought it was a good likeness – very flattering.
I’m getting to like Bournemouth all over again. I’d like to keep working hard, get myself together and settle back into ordinary life again.
My football team… I’ve been supporting Arsenal since I was six years old. My all-time favourite player has to be Thierry Henry – pure class.
On my pitch… I’m outside New Look in The Square, Bournemouth from 8.30am until 3pm.
Photo: Louise JolleyThe Square, Bourne Avenue, Bournemouth