Terry Cokeley, 60, Forest Hill Station, South London
I started selling The Big Issue in 1998 but I lost touch with it because I’d been inside for a while. After I came out I was in a hostel and in all sorts of different places but eventually I got in touch with someone at The Big Issue because I’d sold it previously. I tried it for a couple of days then signed up for a proper badge.
It felt strange at first, different to when I’d sold it before. I felt like I’d lost my confidence and it was hard to approach people in the street. But after a week I felt I was getting back into the swing of it and then in the next few weeks I started to get some regulars. I’ve got my own card reader now, and it’s been good. Mostly it’s my regulars who use it. They’re a nice sort of people, the regulars, and one of them I’ve known for many years. They buy me a coffee, or a bun or a cake. The contact has helped to boost my confidence. I feel more relaxed now, I feel myself again.
I’m only on my pitch for a few hours in the morning but we’re working on finding me somewhere else to sell in the afternoons. Not so much for the money, I just enjoy it. It’s about the customers. I get to speak to people, know what I mean? I live in a bedsit with other people, but I don’t really get involved with them so this is my social life.
I moved into the bedsit last year, on December 7. I’ve slept rough, but that was a long time ago now. Never again. Sleeping rough is scary, you never know who’s coming up to you when you’re sleeping. You feel very vulnerable. It makes me appreciate what I have now, I feel safe.
I like my football but my team’s not doing quite well. I’m a Manchester United fan. I see them when I can, but it’s not easy to get up to Manchester every time. I’ve been a fan since I was 10. It wasn’t a family tradition, I was the only one who supported them. I just liked the way they played. I’ve got my own TV now, so I can keep up to speed. I like my snooker too. I played now and again in the old times but now I just watch. Ronnie [O’ Sullivan]’s my favourite player. He won the Shanghai Masters [he beat Shaun Murphy in the final last month to win the event for the third time in a row], so at least he’s not doing too bad.
Photo: Shendrew S Balendran
Forest Hill Station, London