Steven can vividly recall the moment he was told that he could no longer sell The Big Issue; the magazine that has been his financial lifeline.
“I was gutted,” he said, remembering the Sunday afternoon phone call that cut short his vending career — and income — as social isolation rules were imposed across the UK.
“When you’re homeless you can go days without talking to anyone. It does get you down and depressed. But when I was doing the Issue I was there every day, on my pitch, selling the magazine”.
At the beginning of lockdown, Steven was placed in temporary accommodation following a referral from our team to St Mungo’s Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP). As this is only a temporary arrangement, we contacted the Local Authority to enquire about longer term housing options for Steven and find out whether he would be entitled to access the rent deposit scheme.
Steven completed a housing application with BCP council whilst our team contacted a trusted local landlord
that accepts tenants without references or guarantors. Steven attended a housing viewing and informed BCP council that he would like to accept the property. However, the time taken to process Steven’s application to the rent deposit scheme meant he unfortunately missed out on this particular property.
We remain in frequent contact with the landlord and now – by being able to access accommodation and/or emergency support funding through the Vendor Support Fund – we are confident Steven will have a new place to call home soon. It is progress from the housing situation he found himself in before lockdown.
“I was sleeping rough in my sleeping bag, underneath Bournemouth pier in a tent. I’d get up in the morning, go to The Big Issue office, get my magazines, and then start.
On a good day I’d sell ten copies of the magazine, using the money to buy food, coffee, and fuel to get through the winter. If I could afford it, I’d get some charcoal to put into a BBQ bucket and have a little fire”.
Steven also found the time to apply for a job as a safety steward at the Covid-19 testing site in Poole. Being 10 miles from Bournemouth, he accessed the Vendor Support Fund to purchase a bike enabling him to safely travel to and from work. Sadly the placement was short lived due to the low take up of testing slots but Steven is staying positive and optimistic about the added employment options having a mode of transport will open up post lockdown.
“I’m willing to get out there and help. For now, I’ll continue cycling an hour a day to keep fit and be ready for the next job that comes up.
And long term, I’m looking forward to returning to my pitch by Bournemouth Library; catching up with my regulars. I love interacting with the public and selling the Issue. Being stood there gave me purpose and a reason to get up and make myself half decent”.