Robert Straw has been a supporter of the Big Issue and regular participated in the Big Issue Night Walk since 2015. Now, Robert is going the extra mile to fight homelessness and poverty.
Every Saturday morning, you can find Robert leading Action Against Food Poverty and its volunteers around Central London delivering food and some necessities to Big Issue vendors and those in need. The group starts around Holborn station at 10:30 where they walk to Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Soho, Euston Square, and Kings Cross. By the end, the group has fed around 25-30 people, but has talked to at least 50 people (many of them Big Issue vendors).
As a mobile food bank, Action Against Food Poverty is set apart by the communication and connections that the group creates as they give out food. The group stops to chat with Big Issue vendors on their route and this personalisation makes the walk special. Robert sees the vendors as friends and looks forward to talking with them each week. This aspect of the walk is just as important as supplying food because then vendors and vulnerable locals know that there are people that care for them.
So, what do Big Issue vendors think of Action Against Food Poverty? The vendors think it’s great! Covent Garden based Big Issue vendors Sam and Alan (pictured above), are big supporters of the walk. The pair like receiving their Saturday morning cake, having some banter with the group, and have even donated to the cause to ensure the walk can continue each week.
Tia and Lara from the Big Issue Frontline team, who both participated in the walk, had nothing but good things to say.
“We saw many faces lit up by the prospect of homemade lemon drizzle or fruit cake. It was apparent that Robert’s weekly round of the Covent Garden/Soho area was anticipated by some and appreciated by all. Along the way on the walk, we ran into lots of our wonderful vendors, including Christina, who yelled “LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE” when she saw Robert walking towards her! It’s wonderful to see the support provided to Big Issue vendors and others who may need it, be it through cake and sandwiches or merely the prospect of a friendly and caring conversation.”
For Robert, his perspective was changed after being in a tough housing situation himself. After that, he began regularly volunteering and supporting 8 charity organisations, one of them being the Big Issue. With Action Against Food Poverty, he is encouraging others to have empathy and spread positivity.