Maurice Richards, 57, Charles Street, Cardiff

"I’ve worked all of my life, then a couple of years ago I had to go on statutory sick pay and I couldn’t afford my rent."

I’ve sold the magazine here in Cardiff for around 18 months now. It’s been going well because I work really hard at it. I’m out almost every day of the year. I’ve built up my pitch, so there’s quite a lot of loyal, regular customers. I enjoy chatting with them because they’re interesting people.

I’ve worked all of my life. I ran away from home as a teenager and worked for the funfairs in London, then I moved around a bit. I worked on building sites for many, many years.

The Big Issue has given me some new opportunities

I was working in Cardiff, where I grew up, up until a couple of years ago when my emphysema got bad and I had to stop working. The doctor signed me off and I went on statutory sick pay. But I couldn’t afford my rent.

I’ve been in bedsit-type places for quite a while. The place I’m in now is called ‘supported accommodation’, but it’s not up to much. I just get home at night and lock the door and get my head down.

Maurice Richards Cardiff

The Big Issue has given me some new opportunities. The staff put me on to the Street Football Wales set-up. I did a refereeing course, so I could referee some of the games. I’m a big football fan so it was pretty easy for me, and I’m not scared to blow my whistle and send someone into the sin bin. I’ve only been in charge of one game, but I’m looking forward to refereeing some more.

Big Issue Cymru has a team in the league now, so I’ll go along to their games to cheer them on. I think a bunch of the boys were inspired to get involved after watching Wales in the Euros. It was an exciting time, and I think there will be more good times ahead. Football is a great leveller. Everyone can get involved.

I’m also involved with The Big Issue Cymru as a vendor co-ordinator now. At the weekends other vendors in the city come to me as a distribution point. I’ve enjoyed the responsibility of it.

You have to work hard when life throws things at you. It’s still tough for me sometimes – really tough. You have to use your head and knuckle down to get by.

I’ve got to say I’m grateful for The Big Issue for giving me work and helping me when I was in a tough spot.

As a referee, I’m not scared to blow my whistle and send someone into the sin bin”

If I won the lottery… I’d give half the money to The Big Issue to help others, then I’d head off to Crete. I’d buy a little taverna and sit outside in the sun for the rest of my days.

My favourite team… Chelsea FC. I was a Chelsea fan long before they got all their money from Roman Abramovich. You have to stay loyal to your team.

On my pitch… I’m on Charles Street, Cardiff, Monday to Sunday, 9am-4pm, almost every day of the year.

Photos: Jake Morley

Charles Street, Cardiff, United Kingdom

The Big Issue

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