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.
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.
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.
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 TathamM&S West Bridgford Simply Food, Albert Road, West Bridgford