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Rodney Lyall, 51, Boscombe Sainsbury’s, Bournemouth

Bournemouth Big Issue vendor Rodney Lyall has been able to beat addiction and save up for a deposit on a flat with the help of The Big Issue

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I was on the streets for 16 years but before that I’d done The Big Issue in Salisbury. I didn’t sell when I was on the streets though, because I couldn’t get the money together. I was drinking heavily every day and I couldn’t afford to buy magazines. I spent 16 years in graveyards until one day someone from The Big Issue says to me, “You should come back.” So nine years ago I did.

I’m off the drink, I’m off the drugs and I’m off the gambling. I’ve got my life together now and I’m getting to the core of my problems, which is abandonment as a child. I was took off my parents when I was three and I went to the orphanage until I was nine. It was good. They loved me and I loved them. Then I went into foster care, but the money stopped when I was 17 and so my foster parents kicked me out.

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I went to London and started working as a barman in the Savoy. It was quite an eye-opener for me – full of the rich. I didn’t enjoy it as I was only working part-time and earning very little. They had no accommodation for me so I couldn’t survive, but I got a job as a barman in Northampton and I got good money there.

I don’t see that kind of work in my future though, I don’t really know what I see in my future. At the moment I just want to work on my inner child, I’m trying to heal him. A psychotherapist is helping with that. We talk, and go back to my childhood, to when I was three. She puts it in perspective and tells me it’s not my fault and that I’m not responsible for what my parents did. You take on responsibility, you take on the parents’ role. I’ve struggled with it for 47 years but I’ve been getting the psychotherapy for a year and now I’m accepting that it wasn’t my fault.

The NHS wouldn’t give me a psychotherapist so I’ve got to pay privately. It’s £40 a week but it’s money well spent. It’s cheaper than drinking and gambling and doing drugs. Forty pounds and I’m getting something out of it, you don’t get that with drugs or gambling or drink. This is God’s will. I discovered Latter-day Saints seven years ago and they pay for half my counselling. It brings me a lot of comfort to have that support from them.

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I love The Big Issue and if I can do something for it in the future I will. My customers are awesome, that’s all I can say about them. They know about my past and what I’ve struggled with, and they know I’m getting help. I’ve always had respect from them but now even the people who don’t buy the magazine respect me. They realise I’m a human being. I work four or five days a week on my pitch and I can sell 50 magazines in that time. I volunteer in a foodbank as well.

About a year ago I had £1,500 of Big Issue earnings in my pocket, which was a deposit for my flat. I’ve been there ever since. It was hard to adjust after 16 years on the streets because I couldn’t live in a closed environment. I liked open air and I was really paranoid in closed spaces. But I’m doing martial arts now to relax me, Thai boxing and the Bruce Lee stuff. I go four times a week, spending my money on that and being with lovely people. I have anger inside me but this is my way of getting rid of it.

Bournemouth Boscombe Sainsburys Collect, Christchurch Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth, UK

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