Vendor Stories

Dean's Story

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.

James's Story

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.

Paul's story

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.

Gary’s Story

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.

Sam's Story

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.

Giovanni's Story

“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”.

Lynne’s Story

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's Story

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.

Paul A's Story

“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.”

Matty's Story

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.

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