On Friday the 5th of October, Big Issue supporters took to the streets of Birmingham to raise awareness and funds for services across the Midlands. Big Issue vendor Ollie Bain reports on an amazing night.
“I thought it was really good that people still came out when it was raining. There were people that actually do care about the vendors, because they came out and supported the vendors of the Big Issue. While I was walking I spoke to a lady called Ruth and had a very good chat with her about vending, my situation, and the reasons why I work for the Big Issue, which I didn’t mind explaining, and that I get shouted and screamed at, even though I’m working. She was very interested in my circumstances, and because we were on the night walk, we had much more of an opportunity to have a proper chat. I class my customers as my friends, not customers.
Someone came up to me yesterday who did the walk – she said “I was in your group”! She asked me how I was feeling since doing the walk.
I really enjoyed meeting the Amy and Fiona – the people behind the scenes – it isn’t just the vendors out there – there’s a great team in the background. Without having good staff to spur me on, I wouldn’t have managed it.
On the Monday afterwards, I felt I was that close to quitting selling the Big Issue having only sold one magazine. I was a bit down about it. I had a little chat with my Dad – he told me I had never been a quitter. Having done the walk, I knew this was true, and it spurred me on to carry on.
My Dad asked me how the hell I managed to do the night walk in the rain. I told him that when you’re a Big Issue vendor it’s part and parcel of it your day to day life.
I found I achieved a lot by doing it – I felt I was recognised for the person that I am, rather than just a person who stands about selling the Big Issue – I felt like a human being. I felt more part of the Big Issue family.
I felt a massive sense of achievement, I felt very proud of myself. There were several points when I felt I couldn’t go on anymore. One of the security guards on the walk told me that if I wanted something so bad, I needed to breathe through it, and he told me a story, which spurred me on. And I thought to myself, If I can do the Duke of Edinburgh bronze award, then I sure as hell can do this.
I needed a zimmer frame on Saturday morning – I could hardly walk! A friend cooked some dinner for me on Saturday, as I needed a bit of looking after!”
To sponsor a walker visit www.bigissue.org.uk/walks
* Photo by Kenneth Ngai