The Lockdown Lowdown – Supporting Vendors

This week we bring you two stories of vendors who we have supported in different ways to achieve positive outcomes during lockdown.

In late February, a Big Issue vendor travelled to Romania to visit a family member who was unwell and left her two young children with her sister in Manchester. While in Romania, the country went into lockdown and she was unable to travel back to England as all transportation links were suspended.

With the hope of returning home soon but knowing she will be unable to work, she applied for universal credit. We supported her with completing her universal credit claim online and taught her how to use her online journal. As more time passed and lockdown restrictions began to be slightly lifted, together we searched for transport links from Romania to England.

Trans Marian; a Romanian coach company, was traveling from Romania to England every Thursday. We contacted Trans Marian to book a ticket and find out what documents the vendor would need in order to travel. They informed us that she would need to provide evidence which shows she lives in the UK.

We contacted the vendor’s GP surgery and requested a letter to confirm she and her children are registered with their surgery. This letter was paid via the Vendor Support Fund. We also helped her to access her EU Settlement Scheme status online and sent her a copy of her digital card which proves she has indefinite leave to remain.

The Big Issue Foundation provided her with an ID letter confirming how long she had been registered with us and which states we are supporting her in returning to the UK.

The documents were accepted by Trans Marian and on Thursday 28th May, she started the long journey back to England which was paid for via The Vendor Support Fund. She also accessed the fund to top-up her phone, so she was able to contact her family while traveling back.

On Saturday 30th May, she arrived in Manchester and was reunited with her children after nearly four months apart.

Individuals who have been placed into temporary housing during lockdown are concerned what will happen to them once restrictions are lifted. We continue to work with local councils, commission street services and housing providers to support vendors moving into permanent accommodation.

Big Issue vendor Kris has been a vendor has been a vendor for several years and is currently based in London. Just before lockdown, Kris found himself rough sleeping however was housed in a hotel room for lockdown under the government scheme.

During this time, we have been in touch with Kris daily providing both emotional and financial support. He has been receiving regular payments and some additional supermarket vouchers during this time. We have also been able to get him a laptop and are currently in the process of getting him a dongle so he can have internet access too.

We were delighted to hear that Kris will not be returning to the streets. Kris will now be moving into a self-contained property. This has been organised via St. Mungos in partnership with Westminster.

Every vendor’s needs will be unique as every person’s situation is unique. Thanks to your support, we will support each individuals needs as best we can.

Please support Big Issue vendors if you are able: https://www.bigissue.org.uk/donate/

Posted in News.