Martin Mackenzie, 36, George Street, Edinburgh

"I’m a motor fanatic. I’m hoping to start my own business as a bike mechanic."

I’ve been back selling the magazine for a couple of months now. It’s going great. Sales are really whizzing for me this time. I enjoy having a quick word or a good blether with a lot of my customers – that’s one of the really nice things about the job.

Selling The Big Issue has helped me when things got tough. This time my problems started when I fell out of work. I had a driving job, taking patients from hospital and taking them home, or picking up carers and taking them to their next appointment. But it only lasted for six months, and after that I was out of work and struggled to get by.

Last year I was sleeping rough, camping outdoors on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. I’ve got a really good camping kit – I’d make myself Irish stew on a little gas stove. I don’t do things by half! I’m actually a big outdoors person but it’s obviously nicer to do as a holiday thing – it get tedious when you’re living that way and the cold weather comes.

Thanks to my Big Issue earnings, I’ve been able to rent a small room in the Gorgie area of Edinburgh. It’s a temporary thing, not ideal, not very secure. But it’ll do me for now as I try to get myself together. I’ve got myself a decent bike, and I like cycling to my pitch bright and early each morning. I’m hoping to start my own business as a bike mechanic.

I was sleeping rough in a tent. I’m determined to get back on my feet this time

I reckon I’ve got a pretty good, simple idea. I’d like to start a breakdown recovery service using a three-wheel rickshaw – the kind you see in tourist areas in big cities. I would have a repair kit in the back, and if someone breaks down I’d be able to fix their vehicle on the roadside or take them to their destination and fix it from there. I’m a bit of motor fanatic. I’ve always been able to fix up cars and bikes. And I love watching motor sports.

I’ve actually got one of Lewis Hamilton’s hats. He chucks them into the crowd at big races. A friend of mine was at Silverstone – she managed to catch a couple, then passed one on to me. A prized possession, you might say.

The Big Issue has always led to better things for me – it’s been there to help me get back on my feet a few times now, and I’m determined to get back on my feet this time too.

DID YOU KNOW…

If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.

My dream holiday… Spain. I’d love to do some hiking in the hills – in the sun it would be great, and maybe some gorge climbing or bungee jumping.

My favourite sport… MotoGP racing. I like Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez – great racers. I’m a big fan of Formula One as well.

On my pitch… I’m at Starbucks, George St, Edinburgh (Mon-Fri, 7.30am
to 2.30pm)

Photos: Robert Ormerod

Starbucks, George Street, Edinburgh
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