Matthew Robson, 45, Russell Square, London

“It doesn’t take much before you lose it all. But The Big Issue changed my life”

I’ve been selling the magazine in the Russell Square area for the past couple of years now. It’s been a great pitch. The Pret staff here have been absolutely brilliant with me, and I have some really lovely customers who buy me coffees and help keep me going.

Just having people stop and have a quick natter makes a big difference. I’ve met some really, really nice people doing this.

After I left a job in Bath, I came to London, but my problems soon began to mount up

I grew up in Stamford in Lincolnshire, but I moved around the country quite a bit – Manchester, Sheffield, Blackburn, Brighton, and up to Scotland. I got jobs in various restaurant kitchens and got my NVQ chef qualifications while working in Edinburgh. After I left a job in Bath, I came to London, but my problems soon began to mount up.

It doesn’t take much before you lose it all. Before long I was sleeping rough in London, begging, and becoming very institutionalised to life on the streets. But deciding to sell The Big Issue was a great decision. Since then my life has changed for the better. I’m living in a hostel now – a really quiet, clean place when I’ve been able to get myself together again.

DID YOU KNOW…

The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.

With my qualifications I’m hoping I can get a job in a kitchen and begin to build things from there. It would be fantastic to get my own
flat and settle down. One of the things that’s most important to me is going up to see my son who lives in Manchester, and I’d love to have more time to do that more often.

Manchester City is still a big part of my life. I’ve always been a big fan. When they won the Premier League for the first time it was a great feeling – incredible for it to happen. And I think it looks like they might do it again this season. Football gives you a bit of hope that amazing things can happen.

Football gives you a bit of hope that amazing things can happen

I have to say a big thanks to everyone who has supported me on my pitch. It seems like just the right people have come along to cheer me up whenever I’m feeling down. It means a lot and I’ve been very grateful for the backing.

My favourite album… (What’s the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis. I actually met both the Gallagher brothers in Manchester not long after it came out.

My favourite footballer… Carlos Tevez. As a big Manchester City fan, I appreciate what he did for the club. A great player who really raised our game at the time.

On my pitch… I’m outside Pret A Manger, Russell Square, Monday to Friday, from 8am until 4pm.

Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Pret A Manger, Russell Square, London
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