Our vendors: Victoria (Big Issue North, Manchester, UK)

By Christian Lisseman, Big Issue North

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am 18 years old and I have lived in the UK for a year. I have been selling the magazine for about nine months.

Why did you come to the UK?

Life in Romania was difficult. Life in the UK is much better. I am thinking of the future – I want to have a family.

Where do you live?

I live in Manchester with my partner, Ionut, and his mother and father.

How did you meet Ionut?

I was at home in Romania with my parents and he was walking in the evening. He passed by and he saw me, and he came to visit. I was 17 when we met. He is a good man. He doesn’t argue with me. We would like to have children one day, maybe three or four.

Credit: Christian Lisseman

Do your own family still live in Romania?

Yes. My mother and father are still there. I have three sisters and a brother. I had another sister, but she died. I do not miss my family too much. I speak to them on the phone and see them on Skype.

Why do you sell Big Issue North?

I sell the magazine because it is a job, and to pay my rent and to help the family. I don’t want people to see me begging and doing bad things. I enjoy selling it. People have been so nice. They are polite, they speak to me and they are kind to me. Selling the magazine is helping me learn English too. I can’t speak much English at the moment; just the basics. I understand a lot, but I can’t always explain what I mean in English. But my customers are very kind and patient with me. They try to find different ways to explain things to me. Like a woman was asking me about children and I didn’t understand, so she mimed holding a baby.

What does Ionut do?

He is working in a factory at the moment on a production line making gas meters. It is hard for me to get a different job because I don’t speak the language and, for now, selling the magazine is the best thing. Ionut is happy that I am doing this. He works shifts, so we take it in turns to cook and do things around the house.

What was your childhood like in Romania?

It was good. I lived at home with my family. As a child I used to work with my father on the market, selling fruit and vegetables.

What do you hope for in the future?

I hope one day to have a family, to speak English well and have a stable job.

Do you have a message for your customers?

Thank you so much for being there, encouraging me and taking care of me.

Translation by Cristian Politic