Ron tells us how his life has turned around in the last year
Today is a special day for Ron. He has been working, one day a week, as the corporate vendor for Northern Trust (please link to www.northerntrust.com) a bank in Canary Wharf. Today his placement, which had been extended from the usual six months to thirteen, finally comes to an end.
Ron’s usual pitch is in Covent Garden, and he has been selling there for two years now. He tells me it wasn’t easy, he got some hassle when he first started, but he treated everyone as potential customers and was structured with his working time and regardless. It’s this approach that meant that he slowly but surely built up a significant and loyal base of regular customers.
Ron left school at 16 and started his working life in a factory making fish boxes in Grimsby. Quickly deciding that wasn’t for him he joined the Royal Artillery. He was posted to Singapore at the age of 17 having never left the country before and he loved it. 23 years later he left the forces and worked successfully as a driving instructor, but when his sight deteriorated and he lost his income, his life started to take a different course.
Ron says “The public just don’t realise how important The Big Issue is to sellers. It is truly life-saving. I had 30p in my pocket on the day that I found out about it. I went straight to the office and got badged up. Over time selling The Big Issue has given me a dependable income which enables me to get by, and to budget with the money I have.”
Ron was selected for a corporate placement because of his reliability and friendly nature, and he was the perfect candidate for the role. At the launch presentation a Northern Trust employee asked Ron why he wasn’t claiming his pension, and he politely responded “I don’t take anything. I’m the old type who believes you shouldn’t. As long as I can work I will.” But over the course of the placement Ron’s confidence has increased and he began to take the steps he could to claim things he was entitled to.
At the start of this placement Ron was in a very different place. He was living with a friend in a car, he wasn’t claiming his pension, and he struggled to make ends meet. Thanks to the supportive environment at Northern Trust, and guidance from Connexions, Ron has now received a backdated claim for his pension, obtains housing benefit, has a small flat with everything he needs and even has some savings thanks to his increase in sales.
Ron greatly appreciates the support he has had from everyone at Northern Trust and says “I was nervous on the first day, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but it has surprised me how successful this has been. I know I’ll get up next Thursday and put a tie on!”
Ron will continue to sell the magazine in Covent Garden, but is excited about looking for other work opportunities, at The Big Issue or elsewhere, as he now has the confidence to pursue them.