Jim Stephenson, 45, outside M&S, Nottingham

“My choir has a concert in St Barnabas Cathedral – we sing Bright Eyes and Giving It All Away”

I’ve been selling the magazine in Nottingham for the past few months. It’s been great. I had money troubles, built up a bit of debt, so things hadn’t been looking so good. But selling The Big Issue has helped me out at a tough time, put me back on my feet again. My customers are a friendly bunch – they make the job a real pleasure.

I grew up in Cambridge but moved to London as a young man to try my luck there. Over the years I moved around a lot and did various things. I was a van driver, a window cleaner and a shop worker. I was a vegetable chef for a while in Newcastle.

Selling The Big Issue has helped me out at a tough time, put me back on my feet again

I set up housing for refugees in Coventry. I’ve done loads of things. But I’ve struggled to keep anything going for too long – it’s tough when you’re homeless or living in hostels and you move from place to place.

I came to Nottingham about 15 years ago to visit a friend and I really liked the place. At the moment I’m involved in Streetwise Opera – a choir made up of homeless people and others who might be down on their luck. We meet every Tuesday to rehearse at Emmanuel House and we have a very good time.

Some of my favourites we do are Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel and Giving It All Away by Roger Daltrey.  We’ve got a big performance coming up in Leicester for a homelessness charity. In September we’re doing a concert at St Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham. I’m an ambassador for getting more people involved – it’s amazing to see the difference music can make.

I’ve got a pretty eclectic taste in music – I like opera, musicals, rock and pop stuff. There are quite a few pubs in Nottingham that do karaoke, and my favourite thing to sing tends to be Ruby by The Kaiser Chiefs. I do like blasting that one out.

I like the idea that people rally round each other when they’re in need of support

I’d also like to get more involved in a social enterprise a friend of mine is setting up called The In Crowd. The aim is to set up a forum where people in Nottingham can volunteer and collaborate to help each other out. I like the idea that people rally round each other when they’re in need of support. I’ve received a good bit of help over the years, and I’d like to do what I can to make sure others get it too.

My favourite band… The The. I love all kinds of music but the band I became totally obsessed with was Matt Johnson’s post-punk group The The. All their albums were great.

I’ve always wanted to visit… The Scottish Highlands. I’ve been all over England and Wales but not further north. My parents were from Scotland, so it’s something I must do before too long.

On my pitch… Outside M&S, Albert Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham,
9am-4pm.

Photo: David Baird

Marks & Spencer Nottingham Albert Street, Albert Street, Nottingham, United Kingdom

Keep up to date with The Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.