Sean Cullen, Green Park Station, Bath

Sean says he used to have big ambitions, but now he'd be happy just to have a place he can call his own

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Image: Frankie Stone

I became homeless in December. For me, it was better than what I was going through at home. It felt like freedom. I stayed at mates’ houses and then eventually ended up at the YMCA. I met another vendor there who helped me with food and set me up with Big Issue.  

It’s more than about making money for me. It’s about bringing joy to people and putting a smile on their faces. I enjoy watching people be happy and making their days better. 

I play music on my pitch from speakers. It’s mainly about putting on music that everyone wants to listen to – and I’ll take song requests for 25 pence! But mostly, people enjoy what I’m already listening to. I tailor the music to people around me, and often that’s the older generations. I play stuff like the Eagles, The Police, The Beach Boys and Elvis Presley.  

I tried to learn to play guitar in the past but due to financial circumstances throughout my life, I couldn’t really afford to pay for proper lessons. But I would like to learn. I’m always willing to learn anything and everything. 

The biggest way I’ve coped through the cost of living crisis has honestly been with the support of Big Issue. If it wasn’t for the team in Bath and Bristol, I wouldn’t even be able to afford food.  

They’ve helped get me set up with the right support that I didn’t even know I could get. It’s helped push me forward. Even for everyday advice, the Big Issue team is the first port of call for me. 

I will admit I did start to make some money but since then, I do it because I love the feeling of community. Whenever people come past me, everyone’s always happy and enjoying themselves. If people want to have a moment where they can just forget about their lives, come past my pitch and enjoy the music. I put the music on to see people’s smiles, not for myself. 

I also want to remind other Big Issue vendors to enjoy themselves while they’re selling the magazine. We’re all in the same boat and we’re all trying to help each other out. Just enjoy the time you have. 

Honestly, if I didn’t sell the Big Issue, I’d probably be on the streets, not able to afford food, not able to afford anything. I recently moved to a privately rented place with a live-in landlord, and I’m getting housing benefits to help me afford it. 

Even if I can’t call it home, I know I have somewhere to go which is safe and that makes every day worth it. I used to aim big, but now I just hope to have somewhere to call my own one day. It can be small. I just want somewhere I can finally call my own. 

Before I ended up in this situation, I really enjoyed streaming on places like Twitch and YouTube. That’s where I wanted my life to go. I’ve had my computer set back up with the help of charities, and I still fight to make that my career. It gives me the same feeling as the Big Issue. I use it to put a smile on people’s faces and make them forget life for a while. 

If I could go back and speak to my younger self, I would tell myself not to make the stupid mistakes I was about to make. I would go through each moment with myself and explain why it was a mistake so I could avoid it. But I feel proud of myself now and I am pushing myself every day. Nobody else is going to push me. If I don’t do it, I’ll just be stagnant in life. 

I’ve just got one more thing to say to anyone reading this and that is to have a good day!

Interview: Isabella McRae

Green Park Station, Green Park Road, Bath, UK

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