Weston-Super-Mare Big Issue vendor Robin Price has described his relief after The Big Issue provided him with enough dog and bird food to get his animals through lockdown.
Robin usually supports himself and his pets by selling The Big Issue, but the current lockdown restrictions in England have removed his source of income.
He said he was delighted to receive a bumper delivery yesterday of dog food for his canine companion Tinks. Supplies are on their way for his cockatiel Lola.
“It will make a hell of a difference,” he added. “Looking at all that food, it’s going to last Tinks at least the lockdown, let’s put it that way. So, I haven’t got to worry about her. That’s one less worry off my head.
“I don’t really eat very much so I’m fine. I’ve always said as long as my animals are ok, I don’t care about me.”
After he received the delivery, Robin went to Twitter to share a picture of Tinks with her special delivery. The bag of food is so big he said he didn’t know where he was going to store it.
Tinks got some parcels today courtesy of the @BigIssue and @PetsatHome she says a very big thank you, and she will enjoy. @frutepastel @PauldMcNamee @ianduff4 @KeighleyHopkins @Jamespugantics @CliffeLights pic.twitter.com/fb8hdpj6eK
— Robinprice [GWR HST 1976-2019] (@robinprice1975) November 16, 2020
“I don’t even know where to put it,” he said. “It’s still in the same place as when I took the photo yesterday. I don’t really have the cupboard space to be honest.
“Listen, I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth. I thank The Big Issue for doing what they did, I promise you.”
Due to coronavirus restrictions, Robin is not currently able to sell The Big Issue. He said it’s been lonely, but he’s grateful for the support he’s getting from the Big Issue team.
“I’ve got Chris and Kirsty from The Big Issue office in Bristol talking to me. They’re ringing up every other day asking if I’m alright, if I need anything. I’m getting £25 a week off The Big Issue in my bank, so that’s pretty much helped out with my electrical,” he added.
Robin has been working as a vendor ever since he was introduced to The Big Issue back in 1995. He had previously been begging and living on the streets, but since that day he’s always made his own income. For the last few years, he’s also had his own flat overlooking the beach in Weston-Super-mare.
“I survive off The Big Issue. That’s all I’ve ever done. Back in 1995 when I was begging, I went to the Vauxhall office [the original London office of The Big Issue] and the minute I got them first five magazines, I’ve never begged ever since,” he said.
“I don’t do crime, I don’t sell drugs. I don’t drink. All my money has literally come from The Big Issue.”
Robin said that it’s hard to lose his income, so he’s hoping that some of his customers will go online to buy a subscription from him through The Big Issue’s new interactive map.
We might not be out on the street but I am still around.
The new innovation, which launched last week, allows readers to subscribe to The Big Issue directly through a vendor of their choice. Customers can search for a vendor on the map and then click through to sign up for a three, six or 12-month subscription. Fifty per cent of net proceeds from all subscriptions bought this way will go to the vendor chosen by the customer.
“I wanted to be on the map to keep my business afloat,” explained Robin. “To let people know I’m still out there. You know, we might not be out on the street but I am still around. If anyone can subscribe I’d be very, very grateful.
“I hope I’ll get a few subscriptions. Someone might see my ugly mug and go, I know him!”
The lockdown hasn’t only had a financial impact. It has also come at a hard time for Robin’s mental health. Five months ago, his mother passed away. Shortly after, his long-term relationship fell apart.
“It all came at the same time. So my head is pretty fucked at the moment,” he said. “And then I’m not doing The Big Issue as well. I’m just sitting in the flat now and it’s not good.”
It’s at times like these that Robin said he’s thankful for the company he gets from Tinks and Lola.
“I’m trying to keep my spirits up,” he said. “I’m taking the dog round the park all the time, I’m out doing my exercise.”