Listen to ‘Unknown’, the radio play based on the lives of Big Issue vendors

The drama plots the life of one young person and their journey from an abusive childhood through teenage trauma and into homelessness in Bath

Empathy is the basis for charity and there are few better ways to understand the lives of those less fortunate than to hear their stories.

A new radio play based on the lives of Big Issue vendors aims to do exactly that, taking the stories as inspiration for a drama plotting the life of one young person and their journey from an abusive childhood through teenage trauma and into homelessness in Bath.

Tales from sellers Ian DuffLloyd ‘Posty’ Rusdale (pictured above) and Anthony Williams inspired Unknown, and the play is peppered with the dates and locations of the “unknown” victims of homelessness, those who died on the streets without anyone knowing their name.

Listen to the performance in full:

Commissioned by The Big Issue with the support of Arts Council England and The Big Lottery, the trio of “co-authors” helped playwright Dougie Blaxland create an accurate portrayal of the realities of homelessness in 2020.

Dame Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, attended the premiere at Bath’s Green Park Station on October 9.

Posting on Twitter after the performance, she said: “A very thought provoking evening, listening to a radio play about real life stories of childhood trauma leading to homelessness in Bath.

We need to build thousands of new social homes for rent to ensure security for so many families.”

Bath vendor Ian Duff went along to see rehearsals and told The Big Issue it was “an honour” to be involved with the production.

“It was quite a poignant story, I was quite touched by it,” he said. “What really hit me was the statistics and the amount of unknown deaths on the streets. It’s quite frightening because and that is what saddened me the most.”

The play is produced by Roughhouse Theatre and will be broadcast across the UK by radio and theatre outlets including The Belgrade Theatre Coventry, The Greenwich Theatre London, Salford Arts, Theatre Royal Bath and South Street Studio Reading.

Find a local Big Issue vendor near you and hear their story using our interactive map.

Image: Hilary Stock