Noel Cullinane, 51, outside Waterstones, Birmingham
“I’ve always been close to my mum and she’s proud of me being a Big Issue seller”
When I was younger the house that I lived in with my parents was demolished and I moved around lots of hostels after that. Then in 2009 I went into The Big Issue office here in Birmingham and spoke to the staff. That’s how I came to be a vendor and I’ve been selling the magazine ever since.
I’ve had other pitches but now I’m settled at this one outside Waterstones. It’s quite busy in terms of people walking past and I sell what I can. It gets busier at weekends when the shoppers are out, and I’ve got quite a few regulars by now who bring me coffees.
It’s been so hot recently that I’ve been having to take a few minutes and walk around in the shade to get a break from it. I’ve also been coming into the office for water when I’m getting more magazines.
I’m happy selling The Big Issue and I don’t have any ambitions to move on for the time being. I’ve done gardening projects in the past though and I enjoyed them. Come September, when it cools down a bit, I’ll be starting that again. It’s on the allotments and I help out in the greenhouses, planting seeds and tending plants. I haven’t done any landscaping yet but I’d be really interested in giving that a go in future.
These days I live in a supported hostel here in the city. I’ve been there for quite a long time now. It’s alright, a roof over my head and it feels like home.
I used to enjoy a game of bingo with my mum but she had to move into a home. She’s still here in Birmingham so I get to visit her once or twice a week but she hasn’t been so well recently. She was off her food but she’s getting better now. I’ve always been close to my mum and she’s proud of me being a Big Issue seller. When I visit her we love to just sit and talk.
I’m Birmingham born and bred. As well as my mum, I’ve also got a cousin here. Near to my pitch is the bull statue, by the entrance to the Bullring – lots of visitors come to have their picture taken there. It attracts them to the area not far from my pitch, which is nice. I remember when I was younger, when you’d been away and you came back on the coach you’d see the BT Tower coming into view. That’s how you knew you were home.
I used to enjoy five-a-sides but these days I prefer a game of pool. I play in the Unity pub in Birmingham.
If I won the lottery
I’d buy myself a house, but just a cheapish one. And I’d have a couple of holidays a year, to France or Spain.
On my pitch…
I’m here from Monday to Friday from 1.15pm until 3.30pm
Image: Matt Sheehan
Waterstones, High Street, Birmingham, UK