Three months ago we shared Mick’s story (below), a Big Issue seller from Birmingham. Mick was on a journey to find peace with his past and an opportunity to look to the future. The Big Issue Foundation supported Mick to get a passport so that he could be reunited with his Mum in Tenerife after 27 years apart. We are so happy to report that three weeks ago, Mick, along with his brother and sister, travelled to Spain and reconnected with his family. This trip allowed Mick to finally bring peace to a part of his life and end a lifetime of questions.
Susannah, Service Broker in Birmingham, recalls the moments leading up to his holiday: “The countdown to the holiday is now at 9 days! He couldn’t believe it was 1st June on Monday, that it was June already. He is getting himself organised, he has already saved money in his bank account for his trip, as he wants to be able to buy a round of drinks for the family, and contribute to day trips they’re planning. Mick really looks like any weight he was carrying on his shoulders in the past has very much lifted. He kisses the picture of his mum on his ‘phone (which his sister saved as his screensaver for him) every morning and every night when he goes to bed. However, Mick doesn’t want her number as he wants the first time they speak to be face-to-face”.
It has taken eleven months of planning with the support and interventions by The Big Issue Foundation, social services, and Mick’s family, to enable Mick to come this far. During this time, he has managed to redevelop his home into a place which is now safe, clean and healthy for his well-being. Mick has also improved his financial management in the process, saving for this holiday through his Big Issue earnings. Now after reconnecting with his mother, Mick has made a huge step forward by improving his social networks with his family.
The first thing Mick wants to say is: “I want to thank the Big Issue so much, and Emma the police officer who signed my passport form.”
He continues: “This wasn’t a holiday, it was a pilgrimage. I now feel at peace, knowing that I’ve now got a family. I’m part of a family now, which I haven’t been for 52 years. This was a massive gathering of family I never knew I had. There was so much love and so many tears, tears of joy that brought us back together. We have all made a pact that we’ll never be torn apart again. We decided we are going to aim for meeting up on the same date next year, maybe even for Christmas if we can.”
“Vendors like Mick, and their stories, are the most important part of our job. It is incredible what can be achieved by our vendors with the right mindset and the right help”. - Tom Belte, Area Services Manager for the Midlands and Oxfordshire.
There are definitely better things ahead for Mick, he can now keep moving forward, and start the next chapters of his life.
‘I FELT DEGRADED I WANTED MY IDENTITY BACK’
I HIT THE LOWEST POINT of my life five years ago; I was sleeping rough under a canal bridge in Birmingham. Two friends died that year, they were very vulnerable. I thought to myself enough was enough, I had to get back on track. I felt degraded and I wanted to get my identity back. I wanted to be Mick rather than miserable. I came to The Big Issue and met the staff – they have helped me with the problems through thick and thin.
The pitch I work on in Birmingham is in the Jewellery Quarter and is a massive part of my life. I absolutely love it here. I have built up my own family. Everybody knows my name and I recognise a lot of faces. Some people come to me with their problems, but one girl came up to me last week and told me she wished each other good luck in the future. It is one of the perks of the job to have this network of support.
The next six months are going to be massive for me – in June I travel to see my mum overseas, I have not seen her for 27 years. The Big Issue Foundation have helped me get a passport to do this. My family got split up a long time ago due to social services – I hated them for what they did to my family, it wasn’t my mum’s fault, it was just the way things were then. They asked my mum to choose one child out of my brothers and sisters, it shattered us. Talking about this does make me shed tears. I have a lot of thinking to do until then. I do feel happier though: I survived and I am proud of that.
TOM BELTE, SERVICE BROKER, ON VENDOR MICK
We are a small team in Birmingham but we can do a lot. Everyday the team tries to bring bespoke and sustainable guidance to each vendor by managing a vital support model to Big Issue vendors so they can be safe, secure and ready to move on as they continue to create their own earnings. We have to work hard. Vendors such as Mick work hard and it’s a symbiotic relationship. Positivity out of hardship comes in many forms in this office – Mick got a passport but he got a chance to keep on moving upwards in his life, to find peace with his past but also to find a future. Vendors like Mick, and their stories, are the most important part of our job. It is incredible what can be achieved by our vendors with the right mindset and the right help.