Graham Churchill, 58, outside Waterstones, Union Street, Torquay
“It’s reduced me to tears at times, the kindness of people in Torquay”
I started selling the magazine back in October last year and it’s been going great. I treat it very much as a serious nine to five job, and it’s going brilliantly well in that way. I’ve been working hard at it and it’s helped me save a bit of money. And it’s given me a new sense of purpose after some difficult years.
I have to say that Torquay has been fantastic to me. The people here have been so kind, so friendly. My customers will bring me coffees and sandwiches to keep me going in the winter weather. One guy brought me a thermos full of tea the other day, and was full of nice words. It’s reduced me to tears at times, the kindness of people.
Selling the magazine has given me a new sense of purpose after some difficult years
I came to Torquay after a period of moving around the south coast of England, the South West and south Wales. Back in 2010 I was living in Bournemouth, and commuting into London every day. I was a fitter and welder, working on stairlifts. But I lost my job, and I struggled to cope after that. Everything seemed to spiral out of my control quite quickly, and I lost my house too.
Most of the time I moved around and slept in a tent in out-of-the-way places I would find. But they won’t allow that in Torquay, so I’m sleeping rough in a spot that at least keeps me safe and just about warm enough.
Back when I had a house I used to play golf, and I do miss that a bit. Otherwise I’ve been able to keep up with my interest in all kids of sports. I love Formula 1 and I listen to that on a little radio I have. And on Sunday, another Big Issue vendor and I will go to a nice big pub and watch the football. I do like to see my old town of Bournemouth doing well in the Premier League.
It’s been an interesting journey for me in the past few years. It’s certainly difficult, but it’s been strangely moving as well. You meet such fantastic folk – you cut through a lot of superficial things when you meet people who have been through real struggles.
My big aim for the year ahead is saving up enough money for a camper van
My big aim for the year ahead is saving up enough money for a camper van. I’m determined to do it. Having a camper van as a place to call my own and go where I please would be just the thing for me now.
My favourite place… The Gower Peninsula in south Wales. I did a lot of walking and camping there and it’s the most scenic, beautiful place I can imagine. Everyone I met along the way was lovely too.
My hero… Lewis Hamilton. I’m a big Formula 1 fan, and Hamilton is a great driver. He seems like a nice guy, and he’s certainly a born winner.
On my pitch… I’m here outside Waterstones, Monday to Saturday from 9am until 5pm.
Photo: Kevin Cowell
Waterstones, Union Street, Torquay, United Kingdom