Hazel

Age: 56 years
From: London, UK

Her profession

“Basically what I do is I sell The Big Issue. The reason for that is that I spent about last time about four years on the streets and the Big Issue was one way for me to get out of the predicament I was in and also to make a living.

I also teach English in my spare time, but I don’t charge for it. Because where I live there’s a lot of people from other countries who are in a predicament who don’t speak English. Spanish, Portuguese speaking, especially Somalians, most of them are my neighbours. So I teach the ladies English and we have a right laugh (laughs) , so that’s what I do with my spare time.

There’s a great sense of community where I live, in Wandsworth and it’s a great community, so I got involved with the ladies”.

On life

“I think I love life. I do! I love life and I love people. I like when people interact. And because of my illnesses [Crone’s disease], I wasn’t expected to live this long… I don’t know why some of us live longer than others, but as I said yesterday, maybe it’s a learning curve and some of us live longer because some of us do grow and you know, put things right, or you know, understand things and incorporate them into our lives”.

Inspiration

“My first inspiration was Louis Armstrong….. I remember when he died, I was 11 and because I’d picked up the trumpet and the piano before, I’d always loved jazz music and he was my [first inspiration].”

About herself

“I don’t have anything I’m proud of really, but what I like about myself really, is I’ve learnt to like myself and accept that other people like me.”

Insights

“Some people slip up in and they can get out of it, they just need the support.

What I love about life is we don’t have the answers… but we’re always so inquisitive aren’t we? Like what you’re doing [referring to The Ubuntu Project]. I think it’s great! You’re asking how different we are. You’re probably find we’re all the same really.” 

Yes we are… everyone wants somewhere to live, they want food on their table, we want friends… people basically just want to be happy. I understand we can’t be happy all the time, but people just want to feel safe and well in themselves. That’s all it is, it’s so simple, isn’t it. So what’s everyone fighting about?”