More than 1,000 Big Issue vendors are out of work because of the third lockdown in England. They are unable to sell the magazine and can’t rely on the income they need.
We have been checking in with vendors to find out how they are getting on during this uncertain time.
In this piece, we hear from Preda Ilie, 40, who usually sells the magazine outside Greggs in Alnwick. He’s being supported by The Big Issue after losing not one but three jobs during lockdown. Despite this, he’s keeping positive.
Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.
Big Issue vendors are unable to earn a living through lockdown. The Big Issue is continuing to support them but we can only do so with your help. Back The Big Issue now https://t.co/UPrqcxaplI
— The Big Issue (@BigIssue) February 15, 2021
This lockdown period has been difficult for me because as well as not being able to sell the magazine I’ve also lost my other job as a dishwasher in a restaurant. I’m getting help from The Big Issue office, a £25 voucher each week, plus I’ve had a little bit more because people have been subscribing in my name.
I appreciate that, because my special customers and my best friends don’t forget me. Two weeks ago I received £100 in my account and I consider this a very big help. I’m also getting a little bit of help from the restaurant. It’s delivery only now but sometimes I get a call to come in and help with the vegetables.
My wife and I have six children and all but my eldest son, Romeo, who’s 22, are living with me. The others are outside playing in the snow right now.
It was much better when I was busy. Romeo is in his last year at Northumbria University. If he opens a business my dream is to work for him.
“When I found The Big Issue it was just by chance but it really helped me and I’m keeping my children in education.”
I also work as a translator for Romanian people going to the GP or dentist but at the moment face-to-face appointments aren’t allowed. I got an email from the translation company saying they can’t give me any more jobs.
I enjoyed it because it’s my pleasure to help people. In Newcastle, there’s a very big Romanian community and if I found homeless people I was very happy to take them to The Big Issue office to explain their situation because they have children but don’t speak good English. I feel like I’ve made a difference. I’ll be honest, I like to help people.
It was my first job in England because when I came I was trying to find a good job but people didn’t trust me because I didn’t speak English.
Now I’m OK, I try my best. I’m looking forward to going back to selling it but I want to go back part-time and do more at the restaurant. The manager gave me a ring and said, Preda, I need your help when we open again.
He has too many customers and needs more help in the kitchen. My plan is to do The Big Issue until 2 o’clock then I’ll start in the restaurant.
The last time I was back in Romania was to renew my passport. I was explaining my situation to a lady in Alnwick, saying I was very scared about Brexit because if I had to go home to Romania I wouldn’t have a chance. My life is here, this country is educating my children.
When I came to England my eldest son was just seven years old. And this lady sent me to Citizens Advice, who helped me. In the last few months I received settled status for me and my family and I am very, very happy. I feel my future is OK.
Preda was speaking to Sarah Reid.