Vendor Stories

Michael’s Story

My name is Michael and I have been selling The Big Issue in Bristol for about 2 years now.

I’m from Leicester originally but in a classic boy meets girl story, I fell in love and moved to Bristol. It didn’t quite work out, but I fell in love with Bristol instead. There are some lovely buildings around and some great art galleries. But mostly it’s all about the people. The people are just very friendly and relaxed here – there’s a proper sense of community.

Aaron’s Story

I started with The Big Issue in a time of crisis when I needed an income on the streets. I came to London from Blackpool in October and I’ve been selling the magazine since mid-November.

I was a labourer for a skipping company up north but I lost my job because of mental health problems. I also lost my flat. I am sleeping by the river now. It’s pretty rough but I get up every morning at 5 o’clock, have my cigarette, get my coffee, like a ritual routine.

Jim's Story

I’ve been selling the magazine in Nottingham for a little while now. It’s been great. I had money troubles, built up a bit of debt, so things hadn’t been looking so good. But selling The Big Issue has helped me out at a tough time, put me back on my feet again. My customers are a friendly bunch – they make the job a real pleasure.

Bill’s Story

The journey to becoming a Big Issue vendor is seldom straightforward. Few of us expected we’d be selling the magazine. I’m so very grateful for the big hand up that’s been extended by people like you. 

I marked the end of my vending days by giving back my tabard in April 2018. I now have a job at Southbourne Ales. I take groups of visitors around the Victorian-inspired taproom and talk them through the craft beers we make here in Bournemouth. Perfect.

Less than a year later, in March 2019 I won the BH Stars Rising Star Award for my work at the brewery.

Alan Massey, Worcester

I looked after my mum for five years because she had Alzheimer’s and when she passed away I moved in with my partner. I had to move out when we broke up and that was it, basically. I did a bit of sofa-surfing with friends at first but eventually I ended up living under a bridge near to where my mum and I used to live. After a while I managed to put up a tent there and that was where I lived for about two-and-a-half years. I just piled on the sleeping bags and blankets when it got cold.

Tom Cash, Brighton

Six months ago, I overdosed on Brighton beach, where I was found half-dead. I was really bad on heroin, crack and the drink. After that I came back to Oxford and I’m clean now. I’d hit rock bottom, but I’ve been given another chance in life.

Andre Rostant, London

Vendor André has secured valuable experience at a law firm but wants to start a business that will really bake something of his life.

My name is André. I have sold The Big Issue in Covent Garden and Soho for six years, since a domestic crisis suddenly caused me to lose a good, well-paid job, then a home.

Istvan Kakas, Bristol

We are very sad to report that beloved Bath seller, Istvan Kakas, who once received an award from the city mayor for his life-saving heroism, has died following a battle with leukaemia.

The 52-year-old seller lost his life at Bath’s Dorothy House Hospice on Tuesday afternoon after a battle with leukaemia. Istvan was a much-loved and well-known figure on his pitch at Halfpenny Bridge in Widcombe, Bath.

Robin Fabian's Story

Bristol vendor Robin, saw his sales skyrocket after investing £30 on a contactless card payment reader and the story of his ingenuity has reached more than 230 million people. Robin completed numerous TV and radio interviews with aplomb; and sparked other vendors to became interested too.

Paul Snape's Story

I’m originally from Wigan and I was working as a builder when they took on a project up in Newcastle in 1997. I wasn’t able to move up there and I lost my job and it all spiralled from there. I was rough sleeping and in the YMCA when a Big Issue staff member came in. I went down with him to the office and that led to me selling the magazine. I’ve been selling on and off since 1998 in Ipswich, Canterbury and Wales – I’ve moved about a bit because I fancied a bit of a change now and again – but I’m currently on the best pitch in Nottingham. There is a ton of footfall because a lot of people go to the shops and I have a lot of regular customers.

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