James Bradbury, 27, Leicester Railway Station
I used to be a labourer, working on building sites but when I became homeless I lost my job.I was on the streets for two years, I was out over the winter time and it was horrible. I’m much better where I am now, in a hostel here in Leicester.
While I was homeless someone approached me on the streets and asked if I’d like to sell The Big Issue. I said yes, I would go on to it and I’ve been doing it now for the last eight months. Before that I was begging, but this is different. It stops me from having to ask people for change on the street and I can just sell magazines instead. It feels a lot better. I work long days and I’m one of the top sellers in my area. I sell 10 books a day. I feel much more confident about selling now and I’ve picked up a few skills.
I’m doing all this for my little boy. He’s one year and three days old. He’s in the care of social services at the moment but I see him every Tuesday. He loves crawling at the moment, in fact he loves everything. I’m happy when I’m with him, just playing with him and feeding him his dinner and stuff like that. But being a dad has changed me, and The Big Issue gives me a bit of money to be able to be with him. I can buy him little tracksuits and things like that now.
Selling the magazine has also given me confidence and the belief that I can support myself and my little boy. My pitch is at the railway station, so I’ve got a few regulars these day. They’ve helped me out a lot, buying me food and things like that.
This week I’m going to be selling The Big Issue at a gig in Leicester by a band called Ferocious Dog. I’ve never been to one of their gigs before but I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know that much about the band, but I know that they’ve been really good to Big Issue vendors in the past and they do a lot for the homeless community. Hopefully it’ll be a great night and I’ll be able to sell a good few magazines there.
I want to get back into work being a labourer again. I really liked it, because I liked being outdoors. The hostel’s OK but I’m waiting for a flat here in Leicester. That’s what I really want. Then there would be a chance I could have my son to come and live with me, that’s what I’m aiming for. It would be a proper fresh start and a home for us.
Marks and Spencer, 18 Gallowtree Gate, Leicester LE1 1DA, United Kingdom