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.”

I wrote back to Corky and it didn’t take long before we spoke on the phone. He was born in Shropshire and grew up in the county. He struggled with life when he was young, finding it hard to take steps that would help him to settle down.

One thing that remained constant for Corky was an urge for the outdoors. He had a passion for travelling and decided to follow his instincts. Living in just a tent he embarked on his travels across the country. Life was not easy and there were hardships to endure but Corky was determined to maintain an independent lifestyle. He chose to start buying and selling the Big Issue magazine with his own cash to earn a little money to support himself.

Corky travelled for 9 years. He used the Big Issue as his own micro-business, planning his time and managing his finances to help him get by. From the Isle of Sky to Penzance, Corky worked his way round the country, supporting himself from his sales.

Finally he decided to return to Shropshire, take advantage of the skills and disciplines that the Big issue had helped him to learn and start his own business. Today he runs his own furniture shop business, he is married and the couple are expecting a baby girl.

Times have moved on for Corky. He still has his Big Issue badges as a symbol of harder times; a symbol of how he maintained his independence and how he worked his way back from the margins. Along the way he helped many less fortunate than himself, he vended in all weathers, he made connections with people up and down the country and he did it on his own terms.

Corky told me that had it not been for the Big Issue he would very likely have been dead now. He said that he grew up and he moved on. Corky’s story is a wonderful testament to the process of self change and the responsibility that people can take for themselves no matter how challenging the situation is that they find themselves in.

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