Alan is a Big Issue seller by St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and also a keen writer. Looking for inspiration for his writing, Alan travelled to ‘the beautiful city of Amsterdam’ in January 2010. Here, he sold the street magazine “Z” , during Holland’s coldest winter for 30 years.
Three months ago we shared Mick's story 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.
“Every single customer of mine has been so helpful. They have changed my life”
“I've just got my first house. I’m in private rented accommodation now. There is nothing much in it yet – a TV, chair and a cooker – but I love it to bits. My landlord knew me because I’ve been on this pitch for a few years. He used to stop and chat, and then one day he walked up and said: “I have a house for you!” I was gobsmacked. I am still over the moon but it has also made me lonely. I’m used to living on top of other people at B&Bs. I have never had a house on my own.”
Bean Stocks has been working with The Big Issue for several years, initially as a vendor and then as a vendor co-ordinator, selling magazines to other vendors and assisting new vendors at our distribution point in Victoria.
After living in Spain for a number of years and with the tenancy on his flat coming to an end he returned to the UK without anywhere to live and a serious lack of funds. He was previously aware of the Big Issue and decided to start selling it to fund accommodation costs and to make a legitimate income.
Only look down on those you help up
I need to find somewhere to sleep, safe for the night. No money, no bedding, only the pavement. These were the thoughts going through my mind, as I watched the darkness loom, in the knowledge that tonight would be no different than the previous nights. Only cold, damp, depressing, dangerous.
Dean Porter is a former London vendor and will be doing two, yes two cycling events for The Big Issue Foundation this year. Before he joins the team this September for the London to Amsterdam cycling challenge he will be cycling the Prudential Ride London in August.
Dean is a keen cyclist and has previously taken part in 3 cycling challenges for The Big Issue Foundation. Below, Dean shares his motivation for supporting us through these events.
WE ALL STRUGGLE to make the changes in our lives that will help us to move forward. That change is often only possible because we make our minds up to do something and there is someone there to see it through with us.
For former Big Issue vendor James Bowen that someone was a cat… a cat he named Bob: "The day I met Bob my life changed forever. I was no longer invisible. People not only stopped and bought a copy of The Big Issue from me but often stopped to talk to me," says James.
After several years in the Army Big Issue vendor Paul didn’t expect to be sleeping rough on the streets of London taking cover in the limited security of an electricity mains cupboard!
Our Service Broker Matt visited him on his pitch when he first started to sell The Big Issue. He connected Paul to a GP and went on to get him to visit our London Office and see the nurse for a flu jab.
Getting a job has been 4 years in the making since I joined The Big Issue and started to address being homeless; I came to The Big Issue for help and support as I knew I could get my life back on track through being a vendor.
In her own powerful words, Sam, one of our most successful Big Issue franchisees, describes her journey away from the streets.
My name is Sam and I work now as a franchisee for the Big Issue in Covent Garden. This basically means I look after all the vendors in Covent Garden and sell them their magazines. My situation a few years ago though, when the Big Issue first came
across me, was very different. I never thought that homelessness would happen to me. I had a good job with a local authority working as an unqualified social worker. I was also going to University to get my social work qualification. I found Uni very stressful and got caught up in the whole drinking culture there. One night, someone introduced me to crack cocaine and that’s when it all started to go wrong. I started off just taking it at weekends, but soon I was smoking it every day. It goes without saying that this began impacting on my life at home and on my ability to bring the money in to support my children. Within 12 months I was sleeping rough on The Strand and begging money for drugs. I was just existing day-to-day to get the money for crack.