The day Bewdley resident Peter Hayden bought a copy of Big Issue at Snow Hill station had consequences he and wife Sue didn’t anticipate. “Abandon Your Comfort Zone” read a large headline, followed by an invitation to join the Big Sleepout at the Oval Cricket Ground, London, to raise money for the Big Issue Foundation. The Severnside South couple thought sleeping in the famous Oval pavilion to help a good cause would be fun and signed up. A glimpse at the small print would have told them the Big Sleep will be outside, on the terraces – in November.
Born and raised in Hove (and an avid Brighton and Hove Albion fan), Peter commented that whenever he returns to the area to watch a match, “I come out of the railway station and immediately see both sides of the city – the poverty and the vibrancy side by side. It makes us sick that around 5 thousand people sleep rough in the UK on any given night… I think participating rather than just donating some money gives you a sense that you belong to society for all its faults – that you’re not on the outside looking in.’
Each week the magazine runs a feature on a different vendor and by coincidence, the week Peter bought his copy the article was about the vendor at Snow Hill. “His name is Karl, nicknamed Bubble by his regulars,” said Peter. “He has survived complicated surgery following a hit-and-run incident. But he’s a regular at Snow Hill, part of the scenery, and very cheerful.” Big Issue vendors have to buy their own magazines, and rely on the profit from sales. The Foundation supports vendors, helping them with health and welfare issues, addiction treatment, accommodation, and training and employment.
“The registration fee for us to participate was £55,” said Sue, “so we are setting that against our funding target of £350. We have reached £180 in donations in the last week so we hope to exceed the target. That will keep our spirits up if it rains all night – and looking on the plus side, there should be enough room to move to another part of the ground when Peter snores,” she added.
You can sponsor Peter and Sue’s Big Sleep Out here.
Fancy joining them on the terraces of the Kia Oval this November? Sign up today before places sell out!
Photo: Colin Hill, Bewdley