Paul’s story by Susannah Wilson – Assistant Service Broker, Birmingham.

I just wanted to share a recent story about a Birmingham vendor who has worked with us for a few months and has now left for full time employment. It really illustrates just what can be achieved with hard work, self-belief and our support.

Paul came to us in May from a coastal town. He had to leave home because he was in a shared house & his fellow occupants were causing him problems by dealing drugs from the property. He went down to the bus station and got on the first bus leaving town, which was to Birmingham. Paul had sold the Big Issue in the past, had nowhere to turn and knew we’d be able to offer him an opportunity. When he arrived in Birmingham he had nowhere to live and was forced to sleep on the streets.

Paul began selling the Big Issue, keeping some money aside through our saving scheme. He earned enough to secure his tabard deposit in just 3 weeks, selling in Birmingham City Centre. It took several weeks to find him a hostel and sort out his meager finances but he was on his way.

Paul was determined to work his way out of his situation. He had worked in catering for 27 years and was very excited when the local Job Centre put him forward for a job as a restaurant waiter.

Paul came in to the office on the day of his interview in quite a state because he didn’t have any money for his bus fare; this was on the same day that he was moving from his hostel into temporary accommodation. That was stressful enough without the added pressure of a job interview. We gave Paul a day ticket for the bus, so that he could attend his interview, and do all of the other things he needed to do. We were all delighted when he got the job and moved into his new accommodation.

Paul told me that without the Big Issue, he would not have been able to maintain the rent he needed for his hostel, or pay for food, while he was waiting for his benefit to come through. After that, his work at the Big Issue supported him financially, and gave him a purpose to his day. He really enjoyed meeting and speaking to people in Birmingham.

His customers kept him going while he was starting his new life in our city. He is thrilled to bits to be back working in the trade that he loves so much, and said that he is very grateful to the Big Issue team for the support he’s been given over the years he’s worked with us.

Paul was very well liked in the Birmingham office. We miss having him around but it is SUCH a great outcome for him. We wish him every success and happiness for the future.

To help raise funds to help more people like Paul in the Midlands you can take part in The Big Brum Night Walk.

Follow Big Issue Birmingham on Twitter @BigIssueWMids

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