Adela Dumitru, Waitrose, High Street, Nailsea   

Adela is raising her granddaughter by herself, and selling the magazine helps to support her in her studies at school

I was told when I started selling the magazine that The Big Issue is for people affected by poverty who don’t have many possibilities open to them. I signed up with The Big Issue in 2014-2015 and I enjoy selling the magazine.  

I’ve learned the numbers so I can give the right change and learned basic English so I can talk with my clients. I am on my pitch every day, apart from Sunday when I go to church.  

I wake up at 5am every day. I make breakfast for my granddaughter, I prepare her uniform, pack her books and snacks. I wake her up, help her get dressed and do her hair. We leave the house at 7am and we have to change two buses to get to her school. During school hours, I sell The Big Issue.  

The money I earn goes towards paying rent for the flat, buying food, clothes and books for my granddaughter, but it’s not enough to save money.

My granddaughter is the apple of my eye and I will do everything in my power so she can have a better future, a comfortable life that we’ve never had.

Her parents – my daughter and her first husband – did not get along and divorced. My daughter remarried a man who wanted to start his own family and didn’t want to look after my granddaughter. So I told her I’m not going to give up on my grandchild and brought her to the UK with me and raised her as if she were my own daughter. I took her in when she was little, now she’s in primary school. She doesn’t know her mum very well.  

The Big Issue staff have helped me a lot and I am very grateful to them. When I needed to find a school for my granddaughter, Sue helped with the registration process and found a good school near my pitch. Besides this, Frankie is now looking into applying for permanent residency for my little one. They’ve helped me with gas/electricity vouchers so I can stay on top of my bills, and when I couldn’t afford to buy winter clothes for my granddaughter they stepped in. 

I don’t have any future plans for myself; I am working hard so my granddaughter can have a better quality of life. I would like her to have her own house and her own family one day, but ultimately I want her to be happy. She’s picking up English very quickly and she’s made lots of friends at school. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school, so I want her to have a good education so she can pursue a career and find a decent job. 

I don’t know what I would’ve done without Big Issue. Previously, I applied to be a hospital cleaner and to work at a launderette but I wasn’t offered the jobs because my English was not good enough.  

I have a good relationship with my customers. My regulars often ask about my granddaughter. People in the area take an interest in my life, whether they buy the magazine or not. These people know me very well and some of them stop to give me a hug. I feel they’re all generous and good at heart. If they don’t see me for a couple of days, they always ask where I’ve been and if I’m feeling OK. 

I’m very close to a lady who has the same religious beliefs as me and we often pray together. She’s Pentecostal and she called me a few days ago to say that she is having a surgery and that’s why she couldn’t see me. 

I would like to say that I am very grateful to everyone who stops by my pitch because they have helped me a lot and I want to thank them for everything they have done for me, whether they helped by buying a magazine or stopping to give me advice. Thank you for being so kind to me and I have you in my prayers and thoughts.  

Interview by Paula Gombos  

Waitrose & Partners, High Street, Nailsea, Bristol, UK