Vendor Stories

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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