James and Streetcat Bob

Last weeks Big Issue had Bob, a smiling red feline on the cover. The issue number was significant: 1111. But it was more significant in that ex Big Issue vendor James Bowen’s article with matching cover has been probably the most popular issue ever issued by The Big Issue.

In 2007, James Bowen, a recovering heroin addict, found an injured cat curled up on a step when he himself was living in sheltered accommodation. James nursed the cat back to health, only to find the cat followed him everywhere he went, even on the bus to the great amusement of fellow travellers. Bob would sit quietly on James’ shoulder or on the ground while he was selling The Big Issue in London.

James’ inspiring story of how this unlikely friendship helped him get over his addictions to heroin and methadone is recounted in his book A Street Cat Named Bob. With this book James has joined an elite club of writers with more than one million copies sold in the UK alone, and the book has been translated into 35 languages.

James has gone from Big Issue vendor to one of our most significant ambassadors and supporters and through signed copies of the magazine sold on ebay and support through appeals and just spreading the word james and Bob have already raised thousands for the The Big Issue Foundation and helped open millions of people’s eyes to the powerful ethos of “A Hand Up - not a Hand Out”. We are incredible honoured and grateful for all the support that James is giving us. James says:

“One of the best things in my life now is that I can help people and animals who are still voiceless and invisible to be heard and seen. It makes me proud that the book has opened people’s eyes to how The Big Issue works! That selling The Big Issue is an actual job! The work that The Big Issue Foundation does in supporting Big Issue vendors is so vital.”

As part of the collaboration between The Big issue Foundation and James and Bob a competition* was launched to get supporters to send a picture of their pet with the magazine with Bob on the cover or one of James’ books and we had an incredible response. You can see some of the pictures here.

*The winners of the competition have been notified.