Richard Walpole, 41, St Stephen’s Steet, Norwich

"I found classical music eased my depression – it’s my favourite type of music."

Before I started selling The Big Issue I’d begged nearly all of my life. I was in doorways asking people for money and I kept getting arrested for it. Then one day I just thought I had to start doing something more positive with my life.

After I was arrested I lost my flat, all my possessions and my dog. She was a bull mastiff-Staffie cross and her name was Daisy. I wasn’t able to get her back when I got myself sorted out, as she was rehoused, but I don’t know where or with who. Losing her was heartbreaking, and even though I’m more settled now I don’t think I could go through that again, so I won’t be getting another dog.

I’ve had trouble with depression and I’ve been on medication, but I’m off it now. I feel quite well at the moment. One day by chance I started listening to some classical music and I found it eased my depression. It just seemed to help. Ever since then it’s been my favourite type of music.

I’m sleeping on the streets at the moment, just on cardboard mostly. I’m waiting for a space in a shared house which The Big Issue staff are helping me with. I don’t know when it’ll be available, it’s just a case of waiting.

My customers are great – some have given me clothes and shoes, and they go out of their way to help me

They’re friendly people in Norwich. I’m from Wisbech in Cambridgeshire originally but when my brother moved here I followed him. I’m really close to him, and I’ve got two sisters here in Norwich as well. We speak on the phone a lot but we don’t get to meet up that often.

My regular customers here are great – quite a few of them have given me clothes and shoes, and they go out of their way to help me. This is a good pitch – St Stephens Street is a busy shopping area. You get your slow days and your good days. Today has been a bit slow, but on a busy Saturday I’d hope to sell 10 or 15 magazines.

I’ve had a new stability in my life recently and it’s mostly down to selling The Big Issue. It’s taught me so much but I don’t have plans yet to move on because selling the magazine is working well for me at the moment. I’m happier and feel much more positive about my life now. It’s so much better than begging in doorways and I enjoy the interaction with my customers. When you’re begging you get ignored a lot, but people talk to me now.

If I won the lottery… I’d build a homeless shelter so all the rough sleepers in Norwich had somewhere safe and warm to go to.

The high notes… I love classical music so I’d really like to hear a live orchestra one day.

On my pitch… I’m outside Superdrug, St Stephens Street, Norwich, 9.15am-3.30pm, Monday to Saturday

Photos: Ian Aitken

St Stephens Street, Norwich, United Kingdom