Big Issue vendor Garry Buchan has vowed not to let his injuries stop him raising thousands of pounds to battle homelessness after suffering a suspected random attack near his temporary home in Bath.
Garry, 44, spent two weeks in hospital after suffering a fractured cheekbone and a badly broken left foot, as well as severe bruising to his face and body following an alleged attack in the early hours of November 28.
The veteran Big Issue vendor was on his way back to his tent at Green Park Station in Bath when he was knocked unconscious before he broke his foot after it became entangled in railings during his fall, later requiring surgery to fit a metal plate.
Avon and Somerset Police confirmed they are “following up positive lines of enquiry”.
Garry was taken to hospital and released on December 9 after surgery. He is now recuperating in a hostel and is set to move into rooms provided by homelessness charity Julian House while permanent accommodation is arranged. The local community has rallied round to raise more than £4,000 to help Garry with his recovery.
I’m not going to be fazed about going back out there
Speaking to The Big Issue following his release from hospital, Garry said: “I have no idea why I was attacked, there was nothing said.
“I just can’t get my head around it at all. It’s quite confusing. I think it’s brutal, it could have been much more severe.”
Garry, who is originally from Scotland, has been selling the magazine at Green Park Station in Bath for the last three months and has raised thousands of pounds for The Big Issue Foundation through his “expeditions”.
The selfless vendor has walked vast stretches of the UK to raise funds, including attracting £4,000 in donations for his gruelling Land’s End to John O’Groats walk in 2018.
He has two challenges planned for next year – including an 80-mile walk from Bath to Bournemouth and a plan to travel the country using recently announced Big Issue eBikes – and he fears that his injuries will force him to postpone his fundraising efforts.
Garry solely relies on selling The Big Issue magazine for income and faces six to 12 weeks off his pitch, meaning that he will be unable to sell over Christmas.
“I’m made of stone,” said Garry. “I’m not going to be fazed about going back out there. I’m just looking forward to sorting a flat and getting back out there to make some money and to get ready for my next expedition.
“But my Christmas selling is out of the window. That’s generally my best selling time overall, it’s every vendor’s best selling time, Christmas is when we make most of our magazine sales. But I can’t put any weight on my foot at all so that’s my sales gone.
“If I give up myself it means that I give up for other people as well and I can’t live with that. With the Covid-19 pandemic there are going to be more homeless people on the streets and that drives me on to continue my expeditions.”
A local Big Issue vendor was attacked in Bath last week leaving him with injuries that mean he won't be able to vend. Please help us fundraise to find a safe place for Garry to recover: https://t.co/UIhZVtKfL6 #bathnews #bigissue #crowdfunder
— Ethical Property (@ethicalproperty) December 3, 2020
The support from the local community around Bath’s Green Park Station has left him emotional, he said.
He added: “The response has been amazing, it’s so touching. I’ve been reading all the messages. It shows that the community spirit is there in Green Park and I realise that it’s not what you have in life, it’s what you have to give in life.
“I won’t stop doing things because I still have my health and my capability to do things for the Foundation. I’m gifted to have that when a lot of people don’t have it. I think that’s why people have been able to sympathise with me and my story.
“I’d like to say thanks to all the NHS staff who took care of me for all their amazing work.”
Charles Beer, who is the market manager for social enterprise Ethical Property Company (EPC) at Green Park Station and had been supporting Garry over the past few months, started the crowdfunding campaign. The proceeds will be managed by EPC and will be used to support Garry, either to help him into employment or for accommodation if required.
It shows that the community spirit is there in Green Park and I realise that it’s not what you have in life, it’s what you have to give in life
Charles told The Big Issue: “All I wanted to do was make sure that Garry had a place to stay to recover.
“Garry is part of the community around Green Park Station and he’s been cracking jokes even when I saw him the day after the incident. He’s a strong bloke.
“The response to the crowdfunder has been amazing. There is very little violent crime in Bath so it has been a real shock to everyone “
Heather Hodge, a Big Issue sales and outreach worker in Bath, added: “The community response to Gary’s story has made a real difference, it has been overwhelmingly touching.
“I can’t walk around Green Park without people stopping me to ask how Garry is doing and I know he has been blown away by the support.
“The Big Issue will be there to support Garry throughout his recovery and continue to support him when he is ready to return to sell the magazine.”
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “Police are investigating after a man was attacked in Green Park Station, Bath, sustaining injuries which required hospital treatment.
“Officers and ambulance crews attended the incident at about 1am on Saturday, November 28.”