We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of much loved Big Issue vendor Donato Barbieri.
The Turin-born 72-year-old London Victoria Station seller passed away on September 14 after a short illness. Donato was a much loved vendor in the London area for the past 3 years.
Big Issue London regional manager Chris Stuchbery added: “Donato was a well-loved character wherever he sold The Big Issue. His passing was a shock to all and he will be missed by all who came into contact with him. Donato sold in Victoria Station, The Wellcome Trust and Angel for the time he was with us and really engendered great support from the public and was valued by the communities he became part of.”
Originally from Italy, Donato was always a man of adventure. As a young man he went to Australia working in the nickel mines for a time before coming to London where he found work as a waiter. He went on to work on a cruise liner for some time before returning to Italy. However when in 2016 life threw a curveball, he returned to London for a fresh start.
Donato was a popular seller and quickly gained a National Rail pitch inside Victoria station where he brought joy to morning commuters on their way to work. During his time there, we regularly received messages from people telling us how jolly Donato was and how he brightened their mornings.
In his My Pitch interview in 2016, Donato told us that “selling The Big Issue gave an old man like me purpose”. Donato’s positive can-do attitude not only brought him magazine sales but was recognised by The Big Issue. Last year, he was recognised for his hard work with an invite from Lord John Bird to visit the House of Lords alongside select vendors from around the country.
Donato with fellow vendor Tony at the House of Lords
Donato had also been a smash hit at his recent corporate placement at Wellcome – on his first day he sold out of copies after just 2 hours. The placement not only provided Donato with a sheltered and friendly environment in which to sell The Big Issue, but also provided experience, connections and skills through mentoring and training.
”Donato was a well-liked, cheerful, and hard-working vendor,” said Big Issue London distribution team leader Lauren Neale. “We are extremely sad to hear the news, and he will be sorely missed by all of us in London Distribution and by his customers alike. He was one of a kind.”