Interview by Christian Lisseman, Big Issue North
Tell us about yourself.
I am from Romania but I first came to England in 2009 to look for work. I am 31 at the end of the month.
What’s it like selling the magazine?
I like it. I sell outside Iceland in Formby. It’s a good pitch. There’s a lot of respect from people and I have a lot of good customers. I work here Monday to Saturday. I stay here from nine in the morning until about four or five. I work as hard as I can to make money for my kids.
Tell us about your children.
I have four children – three daughters and a son. My eldest daughter is 12 and my son is five. They used to live in England with me and my wife. But then my wife and I split up and it was very expensive for my children to stay here, so they had to move back to Romania. Now they live with my mum and my dad.
What is life like for them there?
I have a lot of problems with my family. My mum and dad are very sick and they have to go to hospital a lot. It’s very difficult. I send money home to them every month to help with their medicine and to help my kids. I also send parcels of clothes and shoes for my children because these things are expensive in Romania and the quality is low. There is also very little child benefit there. I get about £40 a month for my children. It’s just not possible to buy things for my kids. The house in Romania where they live is my dad’s house but it is very old and the roof is broken. It leaks in the bedrooms when it rains.
You must miss your children a lot.
I miss them very much. I am very sad. I am sad about my situation and my family. I talk to them most days, sometimes for 40 minutes. At least the phone calls are quite cheap. I go back to Romania sometimes to see my children and look after my mum and dad. I am going back in August and will stay until September. I wish I could stay there but I could not look after my children if I lived there because I could not earn enough money. At least by working here I can give them a better life.
What work have you done before?
I was a lorry driver in Romania but the wages are very low. I got about £120 a month. After buying things for my children there was nothing left. I would love to work as a lorry driver again, but for now I am selling Big Issue North. I have tried getting a job through an agency here. They say they will call but they never do.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love football. I support England and Liverpool. But I work as hard as I can for my kids and my mum and dad so I don’t have a lot of spare time. My life is my mum my dad and my family. My life is my children.