Craig Atkinson, Nottingham Railway Station

Craig would like to make a film called 'A Day In The Life of a Big Issue Seller' so that he could show the humour that comes with the job

I ran into [Big Issue founder] John Bird on my pitch recently. He had a meeting at the university and was passing through. It was the first time I’ve met him and he was great. I don’t know what happened that day but the sales just went absolutely mad. It’s as if people needed to go to the meeting with a copy in their hand or something. I don’t know what happened.

I started selling the magazine on Pelham Street and Columbus Street in Nottingham because I got myself into the position where my kids’ mum could lose them at any minute and it’s been like that for months. Before I used to do little bits and bobs of crime but now I can’t be in a position where I could be locked up because if she loses them I would get them instead. I’ve got three kids under five as well as one who is 24 and one who was 19 when he died; that was terrible.

But I knew the station was working for my mate Steve Newcombe. There was no rain cover on those pitches so they did not work as well for me. Here, once I come to work, no matter what happens – wind, rain, whatever – nothing can send me home unless I want to go. Steve sells here and we worked out that pitches have two slots – a morning and an afternoon – so we share the pitch between us.

The station for me is amazing because I’m a half-decent salesman. I build regulars but I don’t rely on them because I can pull in customers with my manners. I definitely enjoy it. 

I see all sorts on my pitch. Eventually I’m going to have to make a video called ‘A Day in the Life of a Big Issue Seller’,  just take 20 minutes out of each day and put it together because it is a very funny job. 

I got a council flat two years ago and my ambition is to buy that council flat after five years if Right to Buy still exists by then so that I can never become homeless again. So my young kids can never end up in that situation. 

This is the first flat I’ve ever had. I’ve sofa surfed since leaving care then I ended up fully homeless when the pandemic was on. I ended up in a hostel with 52 drug addicts. It was a different level. Madness. But I couldn’t give up my place because I wouldn’t have what I’ve got now.

I’ve also got my own issues mentally. I drink a bit and smoke a bit and if I don’t come out to work I just start drinking earlier that day. I like cycling a couple of evenings a week after work. I go around the Embankment in Nottingham – I live in Clifton so it brings me all the way back to town. I use it to help me sleep. It’s down to all the problems I’ve got that aren’t going anywhere.

I also like cooking. A well-done steak with Reggae Reggae Sauce alongside chips with chestnut mushrooms and caramelised red onions is my favourite when I can afford the ingredients.

If it wasn’t for The Big Issue with the way the cost of living has gone and whatnot, I would lose this place where I live as I wouldn’t be able to afford to keep it going. 

If I was ever to move on from The Big Issue I need to get skilled. I’d love to get upskilled. I’d love to be a digger driver.

Interview: Liam Geraghty

Nottingham Railway Station, Carrington Street, Nottingham, UK