Joel's story

Thursday, 12th January 2012

I was born in Belize and adopted at the age of 4. My adopted father was in the Navy so we moved around a lot.   I eventually moved to London but things didn’t work out and I ended up on the streets.   Whilst living rough I met a Big Issue vendor who told me about the magazine, so I decided to walk through the doors of The Big Issue in August 2009 and have never looked back.  Selling is like a real job: I was on my pitch early every day and worked an 8-10 hour day.  It showed people I’m hard working, that I make my own money and run my own business.

During the summer of 2010, The Big Issue Foundation asked Joel if he would like to join the vendor placement programme at the law firm, Freshfields.   Every Thursday Joel has been selling the magazine in their office, gaining valuable work experience, establishing some fantastic contacts and improving his business and communications skills.

Freshfields have helped me with so much - with clothing, getting a mobile phone, and even sent me on a public speaking course and recruited me as their official Freshfields football coach!  After applying for a full time position at Freshfields, I am now working in the billing department and am gaining valuable life changing work experience.   My passion is sport and fitness and through the support of Freshfields – I am equipped to move forward and hopefully achieve my aim of becoming a fitness instructor.

Freshfields staff voted for Joel to run as an Olympic torch bearer through Newham on Saturday 21st of July and he is now preparing to represent Belize at the Common Wealth Games in 2014.

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