Big Issue seller Andrew leads Exeter Cathedral homelessness talk

Exeter vendor Andrew McGarry spoke of his struggles with homelessness in a discussion with Bishop Martin Shaw.

A popular Big Issue vendor in Exeter swapped his pitch for centre-stage at the city’s cathedral as part of a discussion about homelessness.

Andrew McGarry – who sells the magazine nearby at Cathedral Green and recently visited the House of Lords as a guest of Big Issue founder Lord John Bird (below) – was interviewed by Bishop Martin Shaw during Holy Ground, an alternative worship service held monthly at the Cathedral.

What struck me was the simplicity of Andrew’s spirituality

He spoke of his faith, and his own experience of being homeless on and off for around 20 years after his time serving in the army, explaining how he is often asked by locals how they can help practically.

“People want to know how best they can help – they feel guilty and want to show compassion,” Andrew said. “I tell them to show practical compassion, to buy a coffee or a sandwich, and talk.”

Bishop Martin added: “What struck me was the simplicity of Andrew’s spirituality and also the simplicity of his lifestyle. Both of these seem to me to provide him with an abiding sense of hope.”