Paul decided to invest in a card reader to boost magazine sales – and hasn’t looked back since.
I’m originally from Wigan and I was working as a builder when they took on a project up in Newcastle in 1997. I wasn’t able to move up there and I lost my job and it all spiralled from there. I was rough sleeping and in the YMCA when a Big Issue staff member came in. I went down with him to the office and that led to me selling the magazine. I’ve been selling on and off since 1998 in Ipswich, Canterbury and Wales – I’ve moved about a bit because I fancied a bit of a change now and again – but I’m currently on the best pitch in Nottingham. There is a ton of footfall because a lot of people go to the shops and I have a lot of regular customers.
I’ve had my own flat in Nottingham for the last 11 years and really enjoy getting home, shutting the door and having my own space. I like Nottingham; I live in a really nice area in Beeston and while it has its good and bad points like any other area, I enjoy living here. The Big Issue Foundation has been a constant help over the years; supporting me in lots of different ways such as sustaining my flat and accessing medical treatment when my health took a knock.
Earlier this month, I managed to pick up a few more customers after my Big Issue Foundation Service Broker Becky encouraged me to invest in a card reader. I picked up 16 to 17 extra customers in the first week I started using it – one guy who only ever buys the magazine with his wife came and bought one on his own because I had the reader! I saved up my earnings from selling the magazine and ordered it online for £33 after reading about a vendor called Robin that had done the same time in Bristol and it’s been money well spent – I’m selling more than I ever have. It takes a small percentage of each transaction – about 4p – but I don’t mind that; I even got 30 days free. I’m proud to be the first vendor in the East Midlands to purchase my own card reader. There has been quite a lot interest locally which has seen me interviewed by Nottingham Evening Post and the radio station Gem FM as well as appearing on Central ITV News and East Midlands Today. One of the other vendors who has seen me with it now wants to get his own so I think it’ll catch on.
Despite all this, my dog Lottie still sells more magazines than I do! She’s a three-and-a-half-year-old Staffordshire English Bull Terrier. I’ve had her for two years now after saving her from a couple of alcoholics. She was just skin and bones when I got her but The Big Issue Foundation was great in securing a referral to Vets in the Community and she’s received brilliant treatment from them. She is now fighting fit and the perfect companion on my pitch; the customers love making a fuss of her!
For the future, I’m just looking to keep on selling and see how it goes. Everything is going alright at the moment and I’m confident that’ll continue with the ongoing support of The Big Issue Foundation.