I’m Sian, a 23-year-old graduate from Bournemouth. Two years ago I had the huge privilege of meeting Bill, a Big Issue Vendor who had been homeless for 2 years. I honestly could not bare going to sleep in the warmth of my bed that night knowing that Bill and thousands of other people weren’t able to have this luxury. Feeling almost helpless, I decided to set up a fundraising event as part of my university project in order to raise awareness and money for homeless people just like Bill. To really know what this felt like to be homeless, I also slept rough for one night and can confirm how heart-breaking it is. The fundraising event was a huge success with local homeless talent performing live and everyone talking about the incredible charity, The Big Issue Foundation.
This was great but I soon realise that the big issue we are facing didn’t just go away.
23 for 23
Two years later I saw the Big Issue’s 23rd Birthday Skydive fundraiser advertised on Facebook and having turned 23 myself this year, it made me realise this charity has been running my entire life and still homelessness is somewhat being ignored. I knew that I had to take part and try to raise more money than ever before!
I wasn’t doing the Skydive for the thrill, to tackle my fear of heights or for anything other than to continue to create the buzz around what this incredible organisation do. I knew that I needed to help these people help themselves. I wanted to remind people that we’re all human and we all deserve a second chance. So I decided to set up my JustGiving page and share across all social media platforms, raising money was one thing but spreading awareness of what the Big Issue Foundation do was just as important. In a short time, people were pulling me aside at work, intrigued and asking questions. Family members were also interested and couldn’t believe that the vendors on the streets were selling these magazines for this reason. Before I knew it, I had been successfully educating a wider audience then I had even imagined. My LinkedIn post had 4,000 views from different parts of the country and world. I couldn’t believe it.
I then started to really push the fundraising side to my campaign, I had to alter my tactic from the soft approach to really pushing people to donate. I achieved this through reminding people exactly how far a small donation can go.. Soon, I smashed my original target of £500 and decided to increase my target to £700 and give it one last push!!! I asked anyone and everyone to share my page and my story. As a result, in total I raised £773 and the most magical thing about this was, I even had generous sponsors from anonymous people I didn’t know but were touched from my story.
The jump itself was absolutely terrifying, I can’t even explain in words what it is like to free fall out of a plane at 10,000ft. I remember after the parachute was activated and the tumbling through clouds stopped, I managed to gather my thoughts and remind myself (this was at about 7,000ft) the reasons behind why I was doing this and all the people that had kindly donated. It honestly bought a tear to my eye, as well as helping with the sick feeling in my belly! All in all, despite the hard work and months of pushing, I can honestly say this has been one of my proudest moments. I will now continue to keep my eye out for further opportunities to help The Big issue. After all, this really is a horrible big issue.