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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Dedication of vendor Petru

RACIST abuse, wet weather and early mornings are not something most teenagers have to encounter.

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AT WORK Big Issue seller Petru Lingurar in his Millom patchJON GRANGER REF: 50041974B000

But 19-year-old Big Issue vendor, Petru Lingurar, has had to put up with all three as he goes about his work.

Originally from Arad, close to the Hungarian border, in Romania, Petru moved to the UK with his family when he was just four years old but by the age of 16 he found himself homeless and in need of work. He has been selling the Big Issue in the North in Millom for the past three years after hearing about the magazine while he was living in a hostel.

Petru travels from Maryport to pick up the new edition of the magazine from Kendal every Monday and his 90-mile round trip to Millom means he must get up at 6am before putting in a 9am to 5pm shift from Thursday to Saturday.

“I do this so I can say I am working – it gives me a chance to earn something. It’s very difficult some days, especially in bad weather. But some people are friendly.”

Despite being chatty and offering up a smile to passersby, his sunny demeanour is not always reflected.

He said: “The worst things that can happen are in the rain when nobody will stop to buy a copy.

“Sometimes you get abuse – people will call you names or be racist, it makes you feel bad but I try and ignore it because I have a job to do.

“From here it gives me a good chance to find a job, I will do anything as long as it is a job.

“At one point I couldn’t eat or drink – I had to go into shops and ask for food.

“Doing this I am showing that I can work.”

Caroline Prince, director of The Big Issue in the North said: “The Big Issue in the North gives people the opportunity to earn an income when they have few others ways of doing so.

“We know from anecdotal evidence that verbal abuse from a few members of the public can and does happen. The Big Issue in the North is there to help anyone in need regardless of race or origin and we’re appalled that any of our vendors have to face racism or abuse of any kind while out working.

“We encourage all of our vendors to report incidences of abuse to staff in the sales offices so that we can support them where necessary.”

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