Rodica-Felicia ‘Maria’ Stoica, M&S, West Bridgford, Nottingham

Maria wants to go to college and has ambitions to become a teacher. But first she plans to brush up on her English language

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People know me as Maria where I sell the magazine. I started in 2015. Sometimes I’ve stopped for a year or something like that. But this has been my job ever since I came to England and I wish to continue selling the magazine in the future.

I started selling The Big Issue because at the time it was so hard for me. I’d not got benefits. I’d not got a house. I couldn’t go to another company to go to work because I could not speak English, I could not read it. I didn’t know anything.

A friend of mine was selling the magazine and I asked them, “Can I do this job too?” I went to the office and met the manager and had a small interview about myself. Then I started to work. I was given five magazines and then I started to sell the magazine to get money. You have to be a good person to talk to when you sell the magazine, you can’t be rude. 

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It’s been very good working with  Big Issue. I don’t have anything bad to say about them. They help me with everything, not just selling the magazine. They have given us support with vouchers for electric and gas and shopping. Any trouble or problem I have with reading any forms or papers I can go to the Big Issue office and say, “Can you read for me please?” I didn’t know how to make a Gmail account, but David at Big Issue helped me to do that.

Big Issue is there for me for every problem. My passport expired so I worked for a year to renew my passport so I could afford to see my family in Romania. I am from another country and if I had a problem applying for settled status, Big Issue would help me and other people who need it. I’ve also had help to open my first bank account.

I now want to start college. I can’t do it on my own when it comes to speaking to them and filling out forms. I want to teach, but I don’t know to get started. I say to David every day I want to start but I can’t read, I don’t know ABC, nothing. He is helping me to apply for an English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) course. Big Issue also gave me a phone and a laptop to help me apply.

When it’s cold I am out selling, I think about starting college. Wintertime is very hard when you’re selling the magazine and especially when it’s raining. You’re going to be cold, but it doesn’t matter, you can sell magazines and make good money because people know it’s very hard for us to stay out and they’ll pay for the magazine.  

I live with my boyfriend at the moment, but I wish to get my own property. He doesn’t love my dog and I always bring my dog with me! I am sofa surfing. I stayed with a friend in a flat from 2018 but I hated it. I’d love my own place where I could have a barbecue in the garden.

In the future I just want to be alive and getting stronger because I’m sick at the moment. I want to be in a proper house and to depend on myself. I want to teach kids in school too. Any job like that is very hard to get and I hope I’m not going too far because it’s bad for me. I don’t know what’s going to happen next.

I don’t want my kids to have a life like mine. I want them to go to college and much further. 

I will cook for them. I will clean for them. I want my kids to be doctors or teachers or something like that. Helping other people if they are poor or sick. Always to show respect. I’ll explain to them that my life has not been like yours.

Words: Liam Geraghty 

M&S West Bridgford Foodhall, Albert Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, UK

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