Polly Baggott, 52, Park Place, Cardiff

“The Big Issue gives you that work ethic. You get up, come into the office, and do your job ”

I’ve sold The Big Issue for three months. It’s still very new to me. At first it took an awful lot of guts to do it, just to stand up there. I still get days when I feel I can’t do it. There’s a magic to it that I’ve not quite mastered yet but I’m doing okay.

I’m a teacher by profession. I’ve taught in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Dubai. I’ve lived and worked in many different countries, a journey I started in 2004 after working in this country for many years.

I became homeless very quickly after returning to Britain. I had spent a lot of time looking after my mum, and once she got to the point where she couldn’t stay at home any longer, my step-dad told me to pack my bags. That happened at a time when I had no financial savings and I was propelled into a homeless situation. I knew that Cardiff had good provision for homeless people. I didn’t grow up here but I moved to Cardiff when I was 16. I do consider it home. It’s an excellent city that still has a sense of community. In this day and age that is very important.

I’ve taught in Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia… I’ve lived and worked in many different countries

I was on the street and incredibly short of money. The Big Issue seemed an obvious way to earn a little cash to ease my financial difficulties. It’s been a great help. It also gives you that work ethic. You get up, you come into the office, you go out and do your job. It might not be the typical nine-to-five but it is still valuable.

I’m beginning to build up my own little community at my pitch. I’ve got some regular customers already and people always come over and ask how I am, ask about my day. Being on the street gives you an extraordinary view of society. I had no idea the number of homeless people on the streets in Cardiff. It was shocking. I’m now in a shared house with Huggard, an organisation that’s been very important for me.

Returning to this country, I was quite shocked at the inequality of wealth here now. I wasn’t aware before, I would only come back for a few short weeks, and I wasn’t taking in what was happening. Why aren’t we, the educated West, doing something about this?

Selling The Big Issue lifts me from that terrible poverty where you have nothing.

My passion… We must change our impact on the environment. I have seen, in this country and all over the world, clear signs of ecological and environmental damage that simply cannot be ignored.

My favourite place… I love the mountains. Of all the places I’ve travelled, the Himalayas are the pinnacle for me. It’s a world outside – and above – our own. It’s very escapist.

On my pitch… I’m in the city centre during the week and down by Cardiff Bay at the weekend.

Photo: Jake Morley

Park Place, Cardiff CF10 2BG, United Kingdom

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