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Our vendors: Cornell Jarea (The Big Issue, London, UK)

By Adam Forrest, The Big Issue UK

I started selling the magazine in this part of Chelsea last year. It’s an interesting place because there are lots of grand buildings but there are also lots of council houses, too. As a result, you meet wealthy people, middle-class people and some poorer people – it’s a good mix. All kinds of people ask me about my situation and offer me advice.

I came to the UK to work in 2013. I come from a city not too far from Bucharest called Ploiesti. There was not much for me there, not many opportunities, so I came to the UK to try my luck. I got a construction job, as the traffic marshal on a construction site at London Bridge station, near The Shard.

Credit: Travis Hodges

The job allowed me to stay in a room at a B&B and things were going well but unfortunately that job didn’t last. I became homeless and I started to drink. Things have been difficult. I have been sleeping in doorways and other little spots that are tucked away, here and there, where I can keep warm.

But I started selling The Big Issue and things started to become better. As well as some money, it gave me a sense of purpose, some pattern to the day. And it has also helped me to cut the drinking out. Life is hard when you drink but when you get your head clear, life definitely looks brighter.

I would like to stay in London. I got a glimpse of what life can be like here and I like the city – it is a wonderful place. I’ve been to St Paul’s and to the Houses of Parliament. I’ve also been to the studio of Bryan Adams – the singer and photographer. He was taking photos of Big Issue vendors, which was cool. He’s a really nice guy.

Credit: Travis Hodges

If I can build a life here I would like to do some fishing in different parts of Britain. I used to love to go fishing in Romania: I would find a nice spot, sit and relax, listen to the birds, and maybe catch some carp. I would like to fish in Scotland, or by a nice lake in the north, or maybe some place along the Thames. But, at the moment, I can’t afford the rod. I will keep working hard and earn some money and see what life brings me. I always keep trying.

Places I want to see? Stonehenge. I would like to see other parts of Britain, and Stonehenge looks so interesting and mysterious.

My pitch? I’m outside Sainsbury’s on Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, London, from 11am to 6pm daily.

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