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Streetlife at beating heart of top the city; Dawn Collinson takes a stroll down one of the city's busiest thoroughfares to discover the stories behind some of Liverpool's familiar faces.

STREET SKA: The band Bolshy THOUSANDS of people walk along it every day: shoppers, workers, students, pensioners, all en route to their personal destinations.

As Liverpool's main thoroughfare, Church Street and Lord Street have been a bustling arterial link at the heart of the city for over a century, Rarely, though, have they attracted such a diverse crowd, not just passing through, but those who stay a while to earn their living ... But who are the entertainers and sellers, the familiar faces who call those streets their home, if only for a few hours a day? ? EMMA, who comes from Wavertree, sells the Big Issue Northern.

on the Clayton Square corner of Church Street.

extend It's been her pitch for just over nine weeks, where she stands with her dog, Pippa, from 11am until she returns to supported accommodation at 5pm. "I'm with a provider at the moment which looks after people who are homeless and vulnerable," she explains.

leadat BIG ISSUE: Emma with the magazine "If they hadn't taken me, I could have ended up on the streets.

"A long time ago I did have a job, but I've found it hard more recently because I have mental health problems so I'm not well enough to go back to work.

"I was put in touch with the Big Issue by Morley, who has a permanent pitch in Lime Street station. I met him through Crisis and the Whitechapel Centre.

"Some days I don't feel like coming out, especially if it's raining, but people actually give more when the weather's bad. Most are sympathetic and kind, but I think that's partly because I'm always well-mannered and polite.

"I don't do this to make people feel sorry for me, I do it because I've got no choice. There isn't enough support for people who have mental health issues.

"I'm nearly 40 years of age and I haven't got a criminal record, so I'd rather sell the Big Issue and keep my record clean than sit in Moorfields and beg."

? BOLSHY are six friends drawing a large crowd outside Marks & Spencer. A self-styled "DIY ska punk band", they are Jenny Bishard, from Wavertree, on trombone; Johnny Renshaw, from Newcastle, on tea chest; Louis Kushla, from Allerton on guitar; saxophonist Izaki Wose, from the city centre; Harley Stewart, from Allerton; on double bass; and vocalist Andrew Lockhart, also from Allerton.

"Most of us met through Occupy Liverpool, which was a movement trying to bring about social change," explains Johnny. "There's usually seven of us, we have a girl vocalist as well, and we've been together for nearly 11/2 years.

"We rehearse in a practice room at Highfield Street Studio.

"The band busks in Liverpool pretty much every day, I do it for a living, and we do gigs as well. We played the Spannered festival in Chester and we're doing another one in Wirral next weekend.

"Everyone's not loaded like they are in London, but you can live off what we make and busking is a good way to get people to hear our music.

"We'd never consider doing something like Britain's Got Talent because they seem like a fix, but doing this gets us seen and people who've watched us in the street often come up and book us for parties and weddings."

? KEVIN BOND, 55, is filling the street with his familiar call of "ECHO". Kevin, originally from Southport and now living in Bootle, has been selling the paper for 12 years, always at an outdoor pitch.

"I used to be a kitchen porter, I worked at Craxton Wood, the Scarisbrick Hotel, and on the Albert Dock, but I don't miss it.

"I enjoy doing this because I get to meet so many people. I have my regulars who come and bring me cups of tea and biscuits, and I get chatted up by hen parties!

"It's nice in the summer but in the winter it's freezing. I sat here surrounded by snow this winter, and had to move into the BHS doorway to try and keep warm.

"I shout 'ECHO' every couple ECHO: Vendor Kevin Bond, from Bootle, with the latest headlines on Lord Street of minutes; I do it so often, I still do it in my sleep, but I've never lost my voice. That's why I go to the pub every night, to keep it lubricated!".

DANIEL PARRY, 22, from Bootle, Leigh Williams, 22, from Kirkdale, and 20-year-old Thomas Magee, from Walton, are three friends who break-dance together.

Although they each perform individually, they get together to put on street shows, sometimes for up to eight hours a day.

"Me and Thomas knew each other from school, we both went to Alsop, and we taught ourselves, we didn't have dance classes," says Leigh.

"Two fellas from Walton were in the UK version of the Rock Steady Crew and they trained us for a year and then we took it on from there," adds Thomas.

"We've been together about seven years, and we're here today to make some money, but we like doing it anyway, it's just nice to get paid for it.

"We bring out an amp, a phone with the music on, bottles of water to stop us getting too dehydrated ... and a bucket from Poundland to collect in!" Order our pictures online Go to merseyshop.com/buyaphoto or call 0845 300 3021

CAPTION(S):

BIG ISSUE: Emma with the magazine

STREET DANCERS: Entertaining passers-by in Church Street

? FLORIN PARVAL is 27 and originally from Romania. He entertains passers-by as a white statue, at the top of Church Street. He speaks very little English. "I have been in Liverpool for three years, living in Kensington and working as a street performer," he says. "I come to Church Street between two and four days every week, but first it takes around two hours to put on my make-up and white clothing to become the statue." Pictures: JASON ROBERTS
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 8, 2013
Words:991
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