Vendor Stories

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.

Sharon’s story

Growing up in Horsham I came from a good background, worked my way through school and continued on to college to study Computer Programming. At the age of 18 I wanted to explore what was out there for me so I moved to London to go to University. Things didn’t quite work out how I had planned and I ended up living in a squat, studying under candle light, with 4 coats on.  I dropped out of university and went to work as an Office Manager at W H Smith for 6 years.  A few years later my grandmother  passed away and I moved back to Worthing to be closer to my mum. Here I started working in Retail Management at a Garden Centre for 2 years, living in a caravan with my partner. Unfortunately this wasn’t to last long and I was made redundant after 2 years.

Being made redundant meant that I couldn’t pay my rent or live even. I began to fall into arrears with my rent and as my landlord didn’t accept housing benefit I had to sell my car to pay what I owed and move out.

Paul's story

Paul’s story by Susannah Wilson – Assistant Service Broker, Birmingham.

I just wanted to share a recent story about a Birmingham vendor who has worked with us for a few months and has now left for full time employment. It really illustrates just what can be achieved with hard work, self-belief and our support.

Paul came to us in May from a coastal town. He had to leave home because he was in a shared house & his fellow occupants were causing him problems by dealing drugs from the property. He went down to the bus station and got on the first bus leaving town, which was to Birmingham. Paul had sold the Big Issue in the past, had nowhere to turn and knew we’d be able to offer him an opportunity. When he arrived in Birmingham he had nowhere to live and was forced to sleep on the streets.

Corky's story

A short while ago we were delighted to receive an email from one of our former vendor’s. Hearing some news from someone who has used the Big Issue self-help mechanism to help transform their lives is always a very special occasion.

"This is just a thank you to the Big Issue for allowing me to sell the mag over a number of years up till 2009. This money I made from selling the mag was what kept me alive on many occasions. I have now come through the hard times and now have a nice house, a wife and baby on the way. I also now run my own shop in Shropshire.

Thanks to everyone at the Big issue and keep up the good work."

Richard's story

Richard I was working as a security guard and doing an HND in Engineering Design. But it was too much. I was working too hard and my marriage broke down.  I had a nervous breakdown, dropped out of work and college, and moved to London.  I had a delivery driver job for 8 months – until I had a crash on my bike and couldn’t work anymore.  For a while I drifted, first back to Wales, then to London again.  I met a woman and we moved to Hull and in 2006 she became pregnant and we had a son together, Jack.  However, the relationship broke up, he was taken into foster care and now lives with my aunt.  My life was out of control and I ended up in London, sleeping in St Martin’s night shelter.  I started selling The Big Issue and after four months I got a place in a hostel called Passage House and spent eight months there.  The Big Issue Foundation helped me get a new passport to use as ID. Then I moved into St Martin’s House in Clapham and started a course called Business Action on Homelessness (Ready for Work) and, with the help of The Big Issue Foundation’s Vendor Support Fund, got a Net Book computer and started to learn how to use it.

Mahesh's story

Until three years ago Mahesh was working for a blue chip company in south London.

He had a good salary and a home of his own.  However, force of circumstances saw his life change dramatically, which led to him being jobless and homeless.

“In less than 18 months, my life collapsed; hostels, friends sofas and rough sleeping became ‘home’ all too quickly,” Mahesh says. For many vendors at Christmas this is their reality. But Mahesh approached The Big Issue and The Big Issue Foundation and started to rebuild his life; he was determined to make a change and started working 10 hours a day, seven days a week.

Viv's story

Cracking a Smile

A meeting while sharing an apple juice proved how important a smile is.

Viv Askeland came to the UK from Norway in 1978. She married and had two children. All was fine, but then, 21 years into her marriage, she split with her husband and moved out of the family home, sleeping on sofas at friends’ houses.

Little did she know it but she was only at the top of a downward spiral and she ended up on the street begging. For two years she slept under Blackfriars Bridge.

James' story

I’ve been back with The Big Issue since May this year. Last time, I didn’t get as much out of selling it, but that’s because you get out what you put in. This time round though it has already begun to help me turn my life around; change my life. I was inspired by the new sales training to take things more seriously and do a more professional job of selling the magazine.

I carry the code of practice round with me at all times. This is because it could help resolve any disputes between other vendors, buskers or other members of the public or other persons working on the High Street. It says in the code not to get in to such disputes so sometimes you just have to walk away and go somewhere you can do the job to the best of your ability.

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