Vendor Stories

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.

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.

Rose’s story

I have been selling The Big Issue in Muswell Hill for about seven years. There are a lot of nice people around here and it has a nice villagey feeling. I get all the gossip and I am a bit of a social worker too.

This year I decided to get involved in The Big Knitathon, and I’ve been spreading the word on a website I use called Ravelry.

Marc Matthew’s story

My name is Marc. I started selling The Big Issue fifteen years ago.

Devizes is a small market town dead in the centre of Wiltshire, 25 miles from Stonehenge. It’s only a small town but there are a lot of things to do. We’ve got canals, big locks, two marinas, the millennium White Horse, and up at Roundway Hill there’s information about the Civil War, the battle that took place there and Oliver’s Castle.

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