Vendor Stories

Tony Wood's Story

My name is Tony. I am 58 years old and have been selling the Big Issue in the Victoria area of London since April 2017.

Before this I had been living out of the country for many years. I used to be a consultant design engineer in the energy industries but had suffered from burn-out and went to live in France about 17 years ago. I have also lived in Spain and, most recently, Romania.

Garry Buchan’s Story

My name is Garry Buchan and because of you I’ve begun rebuilding my life.

I started selling the magazine in Bristol last October. Things were not going great for me, but The Big Issue gave me a way of earning money and working towards something better. I sell in a nice part of town and I work hard – I’m smashing all my own selling targets.

I’m from the north-east of Scotland and I had been working for a few years as a foreman on construction sites in Aberdeenshire. I was working for one of the big private builders, so we’d build new homes and also do a small proportion of lower-cost homes for the housing association.

Damian Davies’s Story

I started selling the magazine last September, originally on the other side of town, at Pero’s Bridge, Bristol. I’m not long out of hospital so I just do a few hours a day on my pitch, enough to make some money. I nearly died after an operation and I was in hospital for a month but I’m getting better now.

My work background is removals and labouring, and that’s what I’m trying to get back into but I’m waiting till my leg’s fixed up. I’m on a jobs programme so they can help me out with qualifications, like a CSCS card, so I can go back on a building site.

“I want physical work, the kind that knackers you out.”

Dave Martin’s Story

I’m from Derby originally but I’ve done a fair bit of travelling; I’ve been to Leeds, York, Nottingham. Eventually I found myself in London. I was living on the streets, begging, when a vendor came up to me and said that I could be doing something better, making my own living. He told me about The Big Issue and I decided to give it a go: earn a living, get some self-respect.

George’s Story

One day I’ll be buying The Big Issue not selling it!

George has been selling The Big Issue for over two years. He didn’t expect his life to take this turn, but people rarely do.

George used to work for the NHS up in Glasgow, mostly in psychiatric settings. He managed to build a good life for himself, but was hard hit by the financial crash and its aftermath, which left him penniless and without employment.

Eftenoiu Paun’s Story

I’m lucky enough to have a special new pitch inside New Street station, arranged with Network Rail. It’s a great place to sell the magazine, with so many people coming and going. It must be one of the busiest places in the country, but there is still time to have nice little talks with some of my customers.

Birmingham is a great place, full of impressive buildings. I used to sell the magazine at the Paradise Forum, close to where the big new library was built. I’ve been back to go inside the library – it’s a very grand place. I like it a lot. I’ve always liked libraries, ever since I was a boy back in Romania.

Bill’s Story

Back in late 2015, Bill Webb, a well known vendor in Bournemouth, shared his story. A lot has happened for Bill over the last year and below we reflect on his journey, which he will be speaking about at The Big London Night Walk on Friday 3rd March 2017.

Last year, Bill was evicted from his home in Boscombe as the owners decided to sell the property. Bill managed to find another flat to live in, but circumstances meant that Bill had to also leave this property and live in his tent for two months.

Ken Swain’s Story

Ken started vending in Birmingham in February 2015. He is a returning vendor. In October 2016 he was featured in the My Pitch column in The Big Issue:

“At the moment I’m living on a derelict boat in Bedworth that I’m doing up. I’ve got a sleeping bag on there, and a kettle. Each day selling the magazine I have to make £10.30 – to cover my train fare and the £20 a week it costs for mooring. I’m hoping to make enough money to get a little log burner. That should make it just about warm enough to keep the condensation out and make it viable as my permanent home.

Paul Logan's Story

I was born here in England but my family moved to Canada when I was young. I was there for about 30 years, before I moved to London in the mid-’90s.

There are a million reasons people become homeless. For me it was quite complicated, one thing after another in quick succession. In a short time I went from having a job and a flat to sleeping in a churchyard and being isolated from family who I was too embarrassed to ask for help.

Paul's Story

My name is Paul, I’ve been a Big Issue vendor for about two years now. My usual pitch is in Bristol, at Wine Street and Corn Street. It’s a busy area with loads of passers-by because of the market down Corn Street. It’s a farmers’ market on a Wednesday and a flea market on a Friday and Saturday and it brings a lot more people down the street. The people have been friendly, I consider myself a good people’s person who makes friends easily and a good salesman. I’ve got a lot of regular customers.

I’m from the Midlands originally. I’d been working in a factory there but I was made redundant and joint with some personal problems became homeless not long after that. Before I came to Bristol, I had travelled to Brighton the English seaside resort town to get away from it all. I sold the magazine there for about six months but it didn’t go as well there as I had hoped.

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