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Easton Christian, 67, White City tube station, London

Big Issue vendor Easton Christian retired from full-time selling last year but has returned for Christmas because The Big Issue has helped him ‘get everything he’s got’

I’ve been back selling The Big Issue since mid-November. I retired last year after The Big Issue helped me get my state pension. But they asked me this year if I wanted to come back for the Christmas run and I said: “Yeah no problem.”

I’ve been selling The Big Issue since 2008 and everything I’ve got is from selling it – that has made me get it. So I’m happy to be back helping out again – it’s like one hand washes the other, innit? They’ve helped me. If I wasn’t selling The Big Issue, I wouldn’t have got a flat. I wouldn’t have known all these people at The Big Issue and customers who have helped me.

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It was a customer who helped me get that flat in Hackney in East London back in 2012. I was selling outside Tesco every Saturday and after about three years she invited me to go to her church. I asked her what kind of church it was and she said a Baptist church. I said: “That’s my church!” I used to go to one when I lived in Jamaica. I said no problem and went to Frampton Park Baptist Church in Hackney with her every Sunday after that. I used to sell her a Big Issue every week. She’s now died sadly, and I went to her funeral.

It’s nice to be back and seeing everyone again. When you’re on a pension you get a set amount every month and when you’ve paid off all your bills it’s the same that you’re left with. Doing this gives you a little incentive to earn so you can get presents for people at Christmas.

It has been wet and windy since I’ve been back on my pitch. But it’s not a problem, I just carry on. The people that I see on my pitch all tell me that it’s good to see me again, they were wondering what happened to me after I left last year.

Since I left I’ve been sitting in watching TV and trying to figure out things to do. After the first four weeks it becomes a routine coming up with things to do. So it was good for those four weeks but after that you do try to think about how to pass the time. Did I miss selling The Big Issue instead? Not really! Getting up early and all that wasn’t something I missed but it was something to do. I saw the benefit of having that in my life.

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I would get up, do this, do that, go shopping, get home and watch TV or play a record. I have a small collection of reggae music, stuff like Bounty Killer and a few like that, the dancehall dee-jay stuff. You’ve got a singer singing it but they deejay it. What they used to call toasting in the Sixties.

I met Christopher Eccleston the other day on my pitch when he was doing something for The Big Issue. I saw him and I recognised him but I couldn’t quite place him. I was like: “Who is that tall geezer?” I knew him when he told me his name and that he used to be Doctor Who. But it was nice to meet him, he’s a good man helping out The Big Issue

White City, London, UK

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