Big Issue Vendor

New Year resolutions: Let our vendor experts inspire you

New Year resolutions don't have to be miserable. Let our vendors inspire you with ideas for new hobbies to grab your interest in 2021
Illustration: Matthew Brazier

New Year resolutions don’t have to be all about self-denial. This is the perfect time to try out a new hobby, and our vendor experts have some excellent tips to get you started.

Big Issue vendors have a wide variety of skills and experience. Each week, we bring you the best of their knowledge. Here are some of their best tips to help inspire your resolutions.

Tai Chi
Learning tai chi Illustration by Matthew Brazier

Time for a qi change

Tai chi is for the mind, body and soul. Your qi energy (‘qi’ literally means life force) can get blocked and tai chi helps to unblock it. You’ll know if your qi is blocked because you’ll feel run down. Anybody can take up tai chi at any age. I’ve got sciatica and rheumatism, so for me the main benefits have been how much it’s helped to strengthen my muscles and improved my everyday movement.

Simone Gill sells The Big Issue in Plymouth

Trainspotting Illustration by Matthew Brazier

Choose trainspotting

If you’re looking for a new hobby, you could do worse than trainspotting. But if you think I mean sitting in a field all day in the hope a train turns up, then no. Check Realtime Trains that gives you all the times – where it has come from, where it’s going to, if it’s late. If you’re not near a line but you’d still like to give it a try then there’s always Railcam. So you can trainspot at York but be in the warmth of your house. I recommend the railcam at Dawlish Beach. I have watched the sea spray hit the camera and thought, I’m glad I am here and not there.

Robin Price sells The Big Issue in Weston-super-Mare

Hiking a hill
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Hiking Illustration by Matthew Brazier

Take a hike

Each morning I pack my bag carefully before heading to my pitch to sell magazines. No water? No food? No magazines?! It’s happened. If something’s important then prepare well. Hot weather? Then extra water and some Dioralyte. Got mobile phone? Spare laces?  Mountain walking has taught me that the mind and the body operate in unison.

If we walk uphill too fast our thoughts will become stressed. If our thoughts are already stressed then, most likely, we’ll take on a rapid and uneven gait which will tire us. It’s probably impossible to see an angry person slowly ambling along like they don’t have a care in the world.

Richard Cotterill is a Big Issue vendor in Wadebridge. He has previously worked as a trekking guide in Nepal, Morocco, Spain and France

Growing Plants
Illustration by Matthew Brazier

Get green fingers

If you are in a flat with a bit of window space you can grow micro greens all year.  You lay them in a seed tray, soak them overnight and in the morning cover them with a layer of soil. When you get the first baby leaves, cut them just above the soil – it is a good way of getting nutritious food in winter.

Don’t flood them with water, but watch they don’t get too dry. Herbs like oregano, sage, mint, rosemary, basil, dill and parsley can be grown on your kitchen windowsill. And in the darker months look at seed catalogues and plan for the year ahead.

Richard Todd is a Big Issue vendor in Exeter. He has worked as a landscape gardener and organic farmer

Keeping chickens
Keeping chickens. Illustration by Matthew Brazier

Feel clucky keeping chickens

Keeping hens is becoming a popular thing to do and one tip I have for anyone new to this is to put a heat lamp in their hut over the winter. If the hens are conserving energy to keep warm they won’t lay as many eggs. You’re more likely to get better production off them if you look after them.

One of the main breed of laying hens in this country is the leghorn and they can lay about 200 eggs a year. But the Khaki Campbell duck, which originated in Scotland in the 1920s when two breeds were crossed, have recorded production of 300 eggs a year. Not many people eat duck eggs but it’s a good sideline to have because if you can find the customers you can sell the eggs for a lot more money.

Mike McCall sells The Big Issue in Cambridge

Swimming Illustration by Matthew Brazier

Dive into swimming

Assuming you can already swim, it’s easy to improve your strokes and get faster in the water. A lot of it’s to do with your fingers – keep them closed and angle your hand to catch as much water as you can with every stroke. Streamlining is really important, so even if you’re not used to it I’d recommend a swimming hat. The difference the hat can make, especially if you have long hair catching the water and slowing you down, can be huge. And don’t forget about backstroke. It’s good for poor swimmers because your face is out of the water and you don’t have to worry about when to breathe. Swimming is great exercise, so the most important thing is to get in there and just do it.

Former racer Amanda Hill sells The Big Issue in Cardiff

playing guitar
Illustration by Matthew Brazier

Get plucky on the guitar

I’ve been teaching myself using YouTube videos. Start with easier songs, ones that stick to two or three chords. It’s always good to play songs that you know very well early on, it’s something that you want to learn so that will motivate you to stick with it.

Clean strings often, and your fretboard too, and try and keep your guitar in a bag so you don’t get dust on it. You just lose yourself playing guitar. Just persevere and don’t give up too quickly.

Gary Phillips sells The Big Issue in Saltburn

Find more vendors and their stories on our vendor map. Get more top tips from our vendors each week in the magazine.

Interviews by Sarah Reid & Liam Geraghty