Vendor Stories

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.

Sam's Story

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.

Marks Story

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's Story

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.

Peter's story

At the heart of homelessness. Peter Stone, an ex-vendor shares his incredible story of how he found love

I awoke to the sound of a road sweeper. Man, it was cold. I had absolutely nothing at all, and I was all alone in the world. An unkempt young lady on the street took me to a day centre, a place to eat and wash. I was in a desperate world. I didn't feel able to tell anyone how I ended up living on the streets. I drank tea. I was lost, I was homeless.

Soon I was sleeping out under the footpath to the Tate Modern with a friend - without him I would have not been able to survive. He showed me all the different ways of living on the streets. Eventually he went into rehab and I was alone again. I missed him but I knew this was his best shot.

One cold night under the footway I saw a small bedraggled fox; I threw it a few sandwiches and watched as ‘Foxy’ ate some and then bounded off some distance to eat the rest. For months this went on and each night she would come a little bit closer until eventually she took it from my hand.

Andy’s Story

An Interview with Andy at Victoria station

Andy sits down and tiny old school caf with a coffee. I ask is he wants to have a soft drink as well…he says no “I don’t want to be greedy.”

Andy used to work as a lorry driver, but when he was run over a crushed by a reversing car his life changed for ever. The accident made him unable to work and Andy ended up sleeping rough and to make matters worse he caught TB. Three years ago Andy started selling The Big issue at Victoria and in that time he has build of a regular customer base of nearly 60 people. People he truly values. One night sleeping rough, Andy had all his possessions stolen and he lost his driver’s licence and passport. With help from the Big Issue Foundation’s Vendor Support Fund Andy managed to save for a new passport and license and he hopes to one day be able to buy a van and run his own little business as a driver.

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