21 Years of Achievement
Our vendors, past and present, came together in London last week to celebrate landmark achievements in their lives as the The Big Issue turns 21 years old.
The ‘Real Lives, Real Journeys’ event was organised by The Big Issue Foundation, which supports vendors in making progress with health, housing, finance and employment.
Joel Hodgson, 25 (pictured), talked about the impact The Big Issue had made on his life. He and his girlfriend first became homeless in 2009 and spent weeks at a time living in a campsite in Chingford.
He showed such determination in selling the magazine on the streets of London that he was put forward for a ‘Vendor Placement Scheme’, first selling the magazine inside Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, a law firm with 28 offices around the world, then landing an internship with the company. Joel now works full-time in Freshfields’ billing department.
“Selling the Big Issue was the first time I felt part of the community,” he said. “It was a big thing to be spoken to as an equal by customers, and staff gave me a lot of support with any problems I had. I jumped at the chance to do the corporate placement, and it was a surprise to find people at Freshfields welcome me with open arms.”
This summer Joel became an Olympic torchbearer, carrying the flame on one of its final stretches through London. Remarkably, he was also recently chosen by his country-of-origin Belize to represent them in the 100m at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Stephen Robertson, The Big Issue Foundation CEO said: “The Big Issue and the Foundation offer a unique opportunity for people to help themselves by working their way back into the mainstream.”
Read London vendor André Rostant’s compelling account of the ‘Real Lives, Real Journeys’ event.
The Big Issue Foundation are organising the first ever Big Brum Night Walk, this Friday October 5th 2012. Starting at Brindleyplace, in the heart of Birmingham City centre, the fundraising night will see hundreds of people take to the streets to help Big Issue vendors on their journey away from homelessness.