I first came across The Big Issue after someone from the church told me about it. I was looking for work, but I my English wasn’t good, so it was hard to find a job.
Me and my husband came into the Birmingham office and we started selling. I had a two-year gap when I gave birth to my 5th child and my mother was poorly but it’s now been 8 years since I first started selling in Birmingham.
Over the years, the team in Birmingham have always been really friendly and supportive. They referred me and my husband to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes and we learned to communicate in English. As a result, my husband has now moved on from The Big Issue into other employment.
For me, selling The Big Issue works perfectly because I have childcare commitments and being able to choose my own hours offers the flexibility I need. I earn enough money from selling the magazine to buy food and essential items in the house for me and my family. I don’t need much, and I am happy with what I’ve got.
To sell The Big Issue is not easy, especially when you need to stand in the rain, in the heat or when you face racism or bullying. But on the other hand, on my pitch I’ve met nice people who made me feel welcome and appreciated. I have regular customers, they always buy the magazine from me and are friendly. I enjoy selling The Big Issue and I like to interact with people.
I am grateful for all the support that Big Issue has offered every time I need it.
Gabriela Sima, West Midlands Team Leader
I’ve been working with Eleonora for a while now. She first started selling The Big Issue back in June 2011.
Even though her English is improving she still needs our support. Being an EU citizen, she had to apply for Settled Status. We referred Eleonora to Migrant Help to support with her application. She had to provide evidence that she lives and works in the UK along with the correct accompanying documents. The end result was Eleonora and her family being grant settled status which was brilliant for all.
We recently assisted Eleonora to set up a manageable instalment plan for an outstanding debt after the bailiff agents visited her home. We made arrangements for the amount to be paid by direct debit and put in place a budgeting plan to make sure Eleonora will always have enough money in her account to pay the instalments.
Eleonora needed to apply for passports for her and her children. The application process required an internet connection and an email address which she doesn’t have access to. We created an email address for her and have helped her to complete the online application.
A photo ID is essential these days and will open up many new opportunities for Eleonora and her family.
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