Our Vendors: Craig Newman (The Big Issue, Bristol, UK)

Craig was speaking to Adam Forrest, The Big Issue (UK)

It’s funny to be back in Bristol because I was born here. But I grew up in Kent mostly, before my parents split up. After a bit of time in Canterbury, I came to Bristol with hopes of a new start.

I came here with my partner but after a year we split up. It was a very difficult time and I struggled to cope. I soon found myself homeless, trying to free myself from the drugs scene I’d spiralled into, and trying to stay away from horrible hostels full of junkies.

Photo by: Sean Malyon

It’s been about six years since I quit drugs. I put all that behind me for the sake of my health. I got myself a little flat but I still struggled with loneliness and isolation. When I started selling The Big Issue in Bristol it was life-changing. I began to get myself together. It gave me routine, structure, and got me connecting with people again. It probably saved my life.

Bristol is nice. There’s a few parts you’d want to avoid but the people generally are friendly, and I’ve been able to get some gardening work from a few of my customers.

One of my favourite things to do is fishing. I managed to save up for a cheap rod and fishing gear a while ago, and it’s a great thing to do to chill out and relax. There’s a nice little spot down by St Anne’s on the River Avon. I haven’t caught much – a few eels and maybe a cod or two – but I love it anyway.

Now that I’m more settled, I’ve got more into reading. I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett books – much better than watching the telly. I like the philosophical element.

A friend of mine, a really nice guy from Liverpool who was homeless, got me interested in Buddhism. More the philosophy of it rather than the religious side. He was always explaining Buddhist ideas to me. Even now I’m not sure I understand it but it gets your mind working.

There’s a very nice couple in Bristol who have kind of adopted me and helped me through things. During tough times, when I’ve been on the verge of having a bit of a wobble, they’ve helped me through and I’m very grateful. They even visited me in hospital when I had an operation on my knee. It’s nice to know there are good people out there.

Where I relax… St George Park – not far from my pitch at Tesco. It’s the nicest place I know to take a walk. And there’s a big pond you can fish in, if you fancy it.

I’m a Discworld fan… I tried before to read Terry Pratchett’s books and struggled but I tried recently and this time I’ve got into the Discworld series.

On my pitch… I’m outside Tesco in Redfield from 10am until 3pm.

INSP publishes an international vendor story every week. Come back next Wednesday to read another story from one of the thousands of inspirational men and women who sell street papers.