Over November 29 and 30, Clive told up to 60 people per day five tales pulled from his darkest times in Words Like Kites. Each contributor’s story was available to be ordered from a menu alongside food or drink.
“Each one of mine is named Black something to show that they represent a dark time of anguish in my life and make them stand out, for example, Black Bus is about the time I was knocked over by a bus and waking up to be so happy that I was alive,” he said.
“I really enjoyed it, I was quite nervous for the first table I did and I got quite a lukewarm reaction, but for the second one the reaction was amazing and everyone was clapping and cheering very loudly.
“It was a great thing for me to do and has played a big part in helping me stay sober and improving my mental health. It was a huge mountain to climb for me to beat alcohol addiction, so performing like this was quite a small mountain.”
Sara Baldwin, Theatre Royal Plymouth engagement manager, said: “It was a real challenge for Clive and the others.
“We really intended to take a different approach to community theatre and I think people really responded to the story café.
“The project really was an open, beautiful, honest and creative way of telling these stories.”
Clive took on his starring role after getting involved with Project X – a small group within Our Space, the Theatre Royal Plymouth’s creative programme that uses theatre skills classes to build confidence. The initiative welcomes adults with multiple and complex needs and has been a big help to Clive as he has mixed his theatre experiences with selling The Big Issue.
As we enter panto season, Clive will now have face the busiest time of the year in his red tabard.
And the 10-year veteran Big Issue vendor insists that the skills that he has picked up in his work with Project X can be applied to his pitch.
“I’m quite happy to talk about my mental health because I am learning about it as well,” said Clive.
“I think that people are quite happy to come up to a Big Issue vendor to talk about these things because they know that we have been through dark times and can talk about them.
“It’s a busy time at Christmas for me as we go from one matinee a week to six so I’m selling the magazine to 1,300 people a day and it’s not just about shouting that I have a magazine to sell, it’s little chats and the banter. It does take a lot of out of you but I enjoy it. It’s challenging but very rewarding.”
When most people think about the Big Issue, they think of vendors selling the Big Issue magazines on the streets – and we are immensely proud of this. In 2022 alone, we worked with 10% more vendors and these vendors earned £3.76 million in collective income. There is much more to the work we do at the Big Issue Group, our mission is to create innovative solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunity for the 14million people in the UK living in poverty.