Vendor Stories

Peter’s Story

Peter used to sell the Big Issue when it first launched in 1991. The confidence and skills he developed whilst selling the Big Issue enabled him to secure a place training as a bus driver. Sadly a series of life events resulted in Peter rough sleeping and selling the Big Issue again in 2016. His past experience of selling the magazine as well as his work as a bus driver meant he knew how to talk to customers and how to handle money. He soon saved enough money for a room which he moved into early last year.

Nicolas’s Story

Smart thinking has helped Nicolas into a work placement from which he aims to find Mainstream employment.

In March, Nicolas became the fourth vendor to take on a corporate placement hosted by Northern Trust in Canary Wharf, where he took over from Dave Martin.

Our corporate placement programme provides Big Issue vendors with a weekly, supported sales opportunity, as well as a chance to develop skills with the host company’s employees. Corporate placements also provide an opportunity for companies to bring corporate social responsibility and diversity and inclusion strategies to life in the work environment.

Matthew T's Story

Matthew promised himself he would give up selling the magazine when he was sober and had some stability. He handed in his jacket 11 weeks ago.

I’m Matthew. I started selling the magazine in 2013. I stopped 11 weeks ago. I made myself a promise that when I was given accommodation – which I was – that I would give it another three months to be sure that this time I was able to maintain a clean and sober life and maintain the flat. And then, when those three months were up, when I was no longer homeless, when I was no longer vulnerable, I could let go. I realised it was important that I did, too. Here is my story: I’m 48 years old and I’ve been in Oxford for 12 years. I arrived here homeless from London. I’ve been homeless on and off for much of the last 23 years. I have had accommodation at times but it generally hasn’t lasted because of the way that I’ve lived.

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.

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.

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.

Joel's story

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.

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.

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.

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