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Bianca, Rootes Grocery Store, University of Warwick, Coventry

Bianca loves her job and has made many friends on her pitch. When she’s not working she likes taking her children to the park

I’ve been selling The Big Issue for 10 years. I had family members who sold it and they used to tell me how it works, how it helps and how it supports homeless people. The manager who sold the magazines to my family members was always nice to me and would talk to me. One day she asked me if I wanted to become a vendor and I said, “Yes, that would be great.” It wasn’t a serious thing at first, but then things changed in the way that people treated me and talked to me. I started to enjoy and love my job.

I have six kids, and for me The Big Issue is amazing because I don’t have a boss to push me around or saying, “You can’t go if your child is ill or if the school is calling.” I’m free to come to my pitch whenever I want, and I can go whenever I want. It’s flexible and that really comes in handy. On top of all of that, this job brings so much joy with friends. I have amazing friends at Warwick University, where I have sold for five or six years now. I feel at home. I feel welcome here. Everyone around here loves me, the staff are amazing, the managers are great. The customers? Man, if I’m not careful I’ll become fat. They know what I like to drink. They’re like: “Ginger latte, Bianca?” I’ll be like: “Yes please!” I love my friends and customers. They always talk about me in a good way.

I have really good friends that I stay in touch with – some of them have even graduated from the university where I sell and they still call me. This is how they don’t just become customers, they become friends and then they become part of the family. They teach me a lot of languages too. It is really interesting. It can be hard because when it comes to graduation time I have to teach people who I am all over again. But most of them stay in touch, which makes me really happy.

Like I said, I have six kids and they keep me busy all the time. I want them to do their education and go to school to learn because I didn’t have that chance in my life. That was completely different. I want them to become better than me. It is up to them what they want to do. As long as they study hard and work hard that’s all they need.

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I like taking my kids to the park on a Sunday or taking them to McDonald’s for a treat – even if it’s a punishment for me because I’m on a diet and have to have something like rabbit food. I love Christmas because we have to make our own traditional food from Romania and sometimes I take it to my customers. Sometimes they have seen it and how it’s done on YouTube but they don’t know how it tastes, so I like to bring it to them. I make dishes like sarmale (cabbage rolls) and they are delicious.

Obviously the cost of living is really difficult this year because it’s not the best timing with everything going up, but we just have to take it as it comes. I hope people realise that The Big Issue is not just a magazine, but works in so many ways to help not just vendors but other people who are struggling. I hope more people read the magazine to understand that.

I’d like to say thanks to my customers. Firstly for the friendship and for being there every time I need them, even if it’s having a chat with me when I am tired or bored. That is worth more than anything to me. I just wish them the best in life, and I hope they get all the good things they deserve.

Interview: Liam Geraghty

Rootes Grocery Store, University Road, Coventry, UK