Paul Snape, 47, outside M&S, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire

“Since I got a card reader, I’m selling more magazines than ever”

I’m originally from Wigan and I was working as a builder for Willmott Dixon when they took on a project up in Newcastle in 1997. I wasn’t able to move up there and I lost my job and it all spiralled from there.

I was rough sleeping and then in the YMCA. A Big Issue staff member came in so I went down with him to the office and that led to me selling the magazine. I’ve been selling it off and on since 1998 in Ipswich, Canterbury and Wales – I’ve moved about a bit because I fancied of a change now and again – but I’m currently on the best pitch in Nottingham. There is a ton of footfall because a lot of people go to the shops and I have a lot of regular customers. I’ve got a flat in Nottingham now – I really enjoy getting home and being able to shut the door and have my own space. I like Nottingham, I live in a really nice area in Beeston and while it has its good and bad points like any other area, I enjoy it.

I really enjoy getting home and being able to shut the door and have my own space

Earlier this month I managed to pick up a few more customers after I invested in a card machine. The first week that I started using it I picked up 16 or 17 extra customers – one guy who only ever buys the magazine with his wife came and bought one on his own because I had the reader, for example.

I ordered it online for £33 after seeing the story about the vendor Robin in Bristol who also has one, and it has been well worth the money – I’m selling more than I ever have. It takes a small percentage of each transaction – about 4p – but I don’t mind that, I even got 30 days free. One of the vendors who has seen me with it now wants to get his own. So I think it’ll catch on.

But to be honest, my dog Lottie sells more magazines than I do! She’s a three-and-a-half-year-old Staffordshire English bull terrier and I’ve had her for two years after I saved her from a couple of alcoholics. She was just skin and bones but now she’s doing well and customers love to make a fuss of her. And I love having her on my pitch.

For the future, I’m just looking to keep on selling and see how it goes – it’s when I make plans that things seem to go wrong. But everything is going alright at the moment so hopefully that will continue.

My favourite hobby…

I like gaming. I’m a big fan of playing online multiplayer on the Xbox with Call of Duty and I’m pretty good. I’m thankful my Big Issue earnings allow me to play.

My team…

I support Wigan Athletic and it has been a bit of rollercoaster – after winning the FA Cup in 2013 we’ve been relegated a couple of times. I’m glad we’re going up this season.

On my pitch… 

I’m here Monday to Friday from 8.30am until 1pm and 10am to 1pm on Sundays

Photo: Richard Tatham

M&S West Bridgford Simply Food, Albert Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, UK