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.
“The Big Issue Foundation has helped me a lot, and after seven years on the street they have helped me to get housed. It was very strange living in a house at first. My proudest moment has to be when I finally engaged with the mental health team, and started to work with them to change my life for the better”.
My name is Lynne and 13 years ago I had a nervous breakdown. My son was 2 years old and my relationship with my partner broke down and I had to leave the family home.
I ended up on the streets of Birmingham sleeping under the canal and in doorways. I started drinking really heavily - this was the height of my depression.
OWEN BAILY, 31, became homeless when he returned to the UK penniless after travelling in Holland. He moved to Canterbury and sold The Big Issue in the town in 2005 and 2006. Owen struggled with an addiction to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) – digital roulette games which can swallow up £100 with every spin - found in the high street bookmakers. He now campaigns for better regulation of FOBTs in the betting industry.
“Good morning, Big Issue? “ I said loudly as the flock of pedestrians hurried by, not noticing or aware of my presence. A middle aged man stopped and asked “How did you get to selling the Big Issue? “ He asked very conscious of his direct questioning.
“ I have been an English as a foreign language teacher for many years all over the world, and in the last country I had to leave, because the language school didn’t want to pay me my whole salary. “
“Then why don’t you get yourself a teaching job here? “
“I have been very lucky to work in this profession, but unfortunately I don’t have any officially recognised qualifications.”
First of all, I would really like to say a massive thank you to all the wonderful people who have bought the Big Issue from me in the last month or two, and of course the amazing volunteers who work in the office in Bath.
My name is Matty James and I am an artist, musician, writer, actor, dancer and a wannabe film-maker.
Sam, I am. An ex-Big Issue vendors dramatic story
Sam shares her dramatic life story to inspire others to stay strong
Hi, my name is Sam Spungold and I wanted to share my story with you because I hope to inspire people with addictions, mental health problems, those who sell The Big Issue and others who are going through hell in their life. For others reading this story who don’t fit the above, I hope my story will help you to realise that behind every drug addict and every homeless person or Big Issue seller there is a story and these people are just like you, they just need society to treat them that way and not like an outcast.
The Right to Work
Even though Mark's life unravelled he never lost the dream of getting back to work. This is why The Big Issue was the perfect first step on a path that led to the creation of his own business
The Big Issue office in Bath provides a livelihood for vendors, who effectively work as self-employed street-traders, running their own micro-businesses. The service goes beyond that though, with The Big Issue working in close conjunction with local and national agencies to make a genuine difference in the vendors’ lives. Many locals will be aware of the amazing work carried out by Julian House – the local charity offers a night shelter for people who are homeless, as well as offering them advice and guidance on next steps.
Ron tells us how his life has turned around in the last year
Today is a special day for Ron. He has been working, one day a week, as the corporate vendor for Northern Trust a bank in Canary Wharf. Today his placement, which had been extended from the usual six months to thirteen, finally comes to an end.