Rob Dunger produces and presents the Weekend Breakfast Shows for BBC Radio Suffolk. In a life where he was a florist for 29 years before “falling” into radio he, like many of us, has seen many of life’s up’s and downs. In his radio career, he has tried out many other jobs as material for his radio programmes: A day as a chambermaid in a top Suffolk hotel, a litter picker on the main A14 road through the county, and even a day with the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment… including their assault course.
However, says Rob, it was a few years ago when his eyes were well and truly opened to reality. Rob volunteered to become a Big Issue vendor for a day. With his official vendor’s badge, Rob was shown his pitch in the centre of the busy Suffolk Market town of Bury St Edmunds. About 30 miles away from his home in Ipswich, Rob was unlikely to be recognised by his friends, acquaintances and colleagues. With his woolly hat on and a warm coat, he was ready with his first copies of The Big Issue.
At first I felt very self-conscious that people would stare at me; but it soon became evident that the problem was quite the opposite. People would avert their eyes, look away, or even cross the street. With just a glance at me, they had made their judgement – I was a loser. My first sale was to an elderly lady, I was chuffed. However, she didn’t want the magazine; she just gave me the money. A couple of hours went by where little happened. Why did it hurt so much that people treated me as if I didn’t exist, as if I was invisible?