The vital role that animals play in our vendor’s lives cannot be underestimated – and that has barely been more true than when they are self-isolating in these uncertain times.
That’s why we are shining a light on the healing power of pets in this week’s Big Issue magazine, starting with our cover star Chris and his beloved Jack Russell cross beagle Mack.
The 12-year-old dog is the reason why Bath vendor Chris gets up every morning and even though he is getting on in years, he is even ensuring that his owner can remember the lost art of conversation while self-isolating.
“He’s definitely been great company for me during the lockdown,” Chris, 40, told The Big Issue. “I talk to my dog because he’s always there for me. And I always have to be there for him.
“I’m responsible for him and regardless of whether I can’t be bothered and don’t want to get up or whatever, I have to get up for the dog because he still needs to go out, he still needs to be fed and he still needs to be looked after. He really keeps me going.”
I have to ride past what was my pitch once a week and I find myself looking at it and feel quite sad
The pair may not be able to sell the magazine on their regular pitch outside TK Maxx in Bath but former mechanic Chris is still grateful for the help he received from loyal customers pre-lockdown.
“I’ve been missing my customers for sure,” he said. “I have to ride past what was my pitch once a week and I find myself looking at it and feel quite sad. But I’ve got loads of food for Mack at the moment thanks to my customers. They would drop off some dog food for him and thankfully I decided to stockpile that.
“He’s a handsome little dog and all the ladies love him, everybody loves him really apart from the postman.”
The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.
Chris has also been indulging in his “passion” for all things mechanical to pass the time and stave off boredom while he is in lockdown.
A former cycle mechanic and welder fabricator, Chris has fixed up a trailer and even made himself a racer bike since he was forced indoors.
He added: “I’ve brought the bike back from the grave by fixing the split frame.
“It’s like enrichment for me. I really like working on stuff because I have quite a mechanical brain. I work at the Julian House bike workshop in the social enterprise at their night shelter.
“It’s very much a passion for me but it is something I’ve done professionally. I was even working at the college at Norton Radstock – I was their best student by a mile and they gave me a technician’s job. I’m pretty competent in the stuff that I do.”
Vendors like Chris need your help. Pick up the this week’s magazine, featuring a smiling Chris and Mack on the front, now from Sainsbury’s, McColl’s or Co-op stores or directly from The Big Issue Shop. You can also subscribe to receive the magazine directly from your device or your front door, head to bigissue.com/subscribe for details.
And the newest way to get your hands on the magazine is from The Big Issue app, available now from the Apple Store and the Google Play store.