Mihaela Postaru, Sainsbury’s Marsh Mills, Plymouth

Mihaela likes the flexibility of selling the magazine, because she is her own boss

Image: ©Exposure Photo Agency

I’ve been selling The Big Issue for four or five years. I was struggling, really, really struggling at the time and I heard about it from a friend. It was a good opportunity for me to learn how to save, earn and calculate money myself. 

The Big Issue has been a huge help with my confidence. To be honest with you, I think selling The Big Issue has helped me find myself. I meet new people, friendly people – not everyone is friendly but most of them. Even if they don’t buy the magazine they at least stop and chat with you and they ask you how you are or they offer you a hot drink or something to eat. I feel like here, on this pitch, is like home. The staff at Sainsbury’s are brilliant. The security lady is brilliant. They offer me a chair or to come inside when it’s really cold. I’m really thankful for being here and working with Big Issue. 

I had a good opportunity to have an eye check from Specsavers. I get along really well with one of the ladies who works in Specsavers and she offered to do me a check and my eyes are very healthy! It’s inside Sainsbury’s, and I even have a few of their staff who buy a magazine from me. 

My regular customers help me when I’m anxious or they stay with me and chat with me. They calm me down. I’ve been struggling with anxiety for some time but I’m all right at the moment. I don’t have it all the time. I get it when I’m really stressed. I want to thank everyone for their kindness and for supporting me and trusting me at the same time. 

I used to sell the magazine in Bridgnorth in Shropshire. I moved to Plymouth last year because the people are different here. I wanted a change. I wanted somewhere where I feel safer. To be more respected. 

I was originally in temporary accommodation in Plymouth but I worked quite long hours over Christmas to try and get a place to rent. I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t used to selling so many magazines over Christmas in Bridgnorth. People offered me sweets for my kids as well, they were very kind. I even started doing it – I got a few boxes of chocolates and I was offering people sweets for free, even if they weren’t buying the magazine. I have a few kids who come here all the time to buy the magazine with their parents. I offer them a chocolate, a colouring book or something like that so they can feel happy as well. 

It was very difficult for me to get the rented home I have now but I am thankful that we have a safe roof above our heads. It’s not the best but it’s special for us. I am kind of keeping up with rent and bills. I’m struggling a bit but I’m getting there. I’m not giving up. I think everyone is struggling, not just me. Everything got expensive. 

But even if you’re struggling, I think a little bit of kindness doesn’t ruin anything. Just be kind because it will come back on you. 

The thing I like about selling The Big Issue is that I can go home whenever I want, I can eat whenever I want, I can spend as much time as I want with my kids. Here I’m my own boss. I like the flexibility. 

I have two boys aged six and four. The most important thing for me is for my kids to grow up differently and have more than I had. I want to provide them with everything. Anything they would like to do I will support them. It doesn’t matter what they choose to do when they grow up, I will be behind them and support them.  

Interview: Liam Geraghty

Sainsbury's, Plymouth Road, Crabtree, Plymouth, UK