Exeter vendor Will Adams is delighted to see his regular customers again

It was a long 15 weeks for vendor Will Adams, but the reception he received when he returned to his pitch this week made him feel like he'd never been away

Popular Exeter vendor Will Adams described getting back to selling the magazine on his pitch as “a huge relief” after a difficult time during lockdown.

The 29-year-old, who has been selling The Big Issue for around four years, headed straight out to his pitch to work as soon as it was allowed on July 6 and said “getting back to normal” is helping him hope for the future again.

“Lockdown was crazy. I did not like that one bit,” he told The Big Issue. “It’s amazing to be back.”

Will, who sells the magazine outside the O2 store on Exeter High Street, was heartened by the warm reception he received from both regular and new customers.

“People still recognise me, they haven’t forgotten who I am,” he said. “That means a lot.

“I’ve only been back working for two days and have already seen a lot of my regular customers which is amazing. It’s great to know people have stayed well.”

The vendor said he felt nervous before returning to his pitch because he didn’t know what the high street would be like post-crisis, but his worries faded as soon as he got back to selling the magazine.

He was further encouraged by the PPE and welcome back kit given to him by The Big Issue, he said.

After vendors were temporarily stopped from working on their pitches to protect them from the spread of Covid-19, Will felt the impact of losing both his routine and his income overnight. Forced to apply for Universal Credit, the small payments he received covered his rent and little else.

“It’s a huge weight off not having to rely on that for income anymore,” he said. “It means so much to have something that gets me out there and earning money at the same time.

“But by far the best thing about being back on my pitch is seeing everyone again. You miss that social aspect of your life a lot when it’s taken away.”

Will spent lockdown reading books, working out and watching TV – he reckons he has “completed Netflix” – but the Aston Villa fan hasn’t been watching many recent football fixtures as he doesn’t enjoy it without the crowd.

He hopes that, pandemic-allowing, he can start working towards a career in security by getting his licence this year.

Will’s main concern now is that the UK could lock down again and prevent him from working, but his spirits are high.

“I’m not going to concentrate too much on that,” he said. “I’m just going to be optimistic and work as hard as I can.”

Image: Kevin Cowell