Behind the scenes

Paying tribute to the Big Issue vendors we tragically lost in 2023

We remember The Big Issue vendors who sadly left us in the last year

Big Issue Vendor Marc Jones, Cardiff ©Exposure Photo Agency

Marc Jones, Cardiff

Marc Jones (main image) was sadly found dead at Adams Court hostel in Cardiff on 10 December, just days after speaking to The Big Issue for an interview that was due to be published in the new year. Marc, 47, was an on-off seller of the magazine who had been back working as a vendor for six weeks before his sudden death. 

As part of the progress he was making as a vendor, Marc put himself forward for the My Pitch page of the magazine to speak about his life and his thoughts on homelessness, Cardiff, and his plans for the future. 

Originally from Bridgend, Marc said he had been living in Cardiff on and off since 1996. He had seen a lot of Wales during his life and held a particular fondness for Aberystwyth. He told us: “It’s got the beach, the castle and they’re right next to each other. It’s just quiet and you can even see a dolphin sometimes in the sea.” 

He came back to The Big Issue at a time of great need. He said previously he had sold the magazine but hadn’t “stuck it out”. The difference this time was that he “needed to get myself sorted”. 

His big plan for 2024 was to find a home of his own and to win his battle with heroin addiction. 

“Next year I want to get off everything and get my own place to be independent. It would mean a lot to have my own place,” he said. 

Tragically, Marc’s goals will be unfulfilled. His death highlights the precarious nature of life on the streets, and the fragility of recovery. Tom Watts, sales and operations manager in Wales, paid tribute. 

“I’ve known Marc for several years and he has always been an on-and-off vendor but in the last couple of months something changed and he seemed to be taking selling the magazine more seriously,” said Watts. 

“He was very kind, easy to work with and honest and he never got angry, he was always very calm. We all liked him and had a lot of time for him. We’re all saddened by Marc’s passing and he’ll be much missed.” 

Martin Chown, Plymouth 

Martin Chown, Plymouth.

Much-loved vendor Martin Chown, who was well-known to customers outside Tesco on New George Street and around the Barbican district, died on 4 January at the age of 46 following a long struggle with addiction. 

Sue Owen, The Big Issue’s frontline vendor support worker in Plymouth, joined past and present vendors as well as Martin’s family and friends at his funeral on 2 February. 

She remembered Martin as a “quiet vendor with a cheeky smile”. 

“Martin was always kind and looked out for others. He would give away his last penny if he thought you needed it more,” said Owen. 

Rab Lakie, Perth 

Rab Lakie, Perth

Popular vendor Rab Lakie’s death saw scores of floral tributes, heartfelt messages and copies of The Big Issue left outside Marks & Spencer on Perth High Street. Such was the impact the veteran vendor had in the 20 years he sold the magazine in the Scottish city. 

Rab’s customers even raised £1,000 to pay for his funeral after he died of a heart attack at his home. 

Chris Luby, frontline sales and support worker for The Big Issue in Scotland, said: “Rab was a great wee guy. He was never any bother, a good seller and he was very popular on his pitch, just a nice man and such a pleasant guy. 

“He really will be missed. You could always trust Rab, he would never let you down.” 

John McIntyre, Kendal 

John McIntyre was an all-round “good egg” who died on 11 November at the age of 69. 

John became a familiar face in Kendal, Cumbria, over the last five years and left a big impression at the town’s homelessness prevention charity Manna House, where he used to buy his magazines. 

His cousin Amanda Johnson told The Big Issue: “John was just a good egg, he was willing to help everyone. He had lots of friends, he was so generous.” 

Amputee John loved playing pool and fishing and will also be remembered for his passion for selling the magazine. Manna House’s Clare Neal added: “He really was a Kendal character that everybody will know and miss.” 

We also remember

Simon Quinton, Bristol 

Martin Heath, Gloucester 

Gary McCormick, London 

Michael Larvin, London 

Amber Wood, London 

Marie Walker, London 

Joe Crowe, Winchester 

Ray Reed, Portsmouth 

Stacey Hounslow, Plymouth 

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

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