Much-loved Big Issue vendor Kris Dove has been housed in a London hotel for more than two months. The London seller slept in backpacker’s hostels while selling the magazine seven days a week at two different locations in the English capital – Marylebone Railway Station and the nearby Farmer’s Market. Now he’s passing the time self-isolating in his new home.
We asked the 29-year-old Newcastle native, who has been selling the magazine for almost a decade, to give us his impressions of life under the Everybody In scheme.
He said: “It’s been difficult. I’m used to being out seven days a week doing the mag, doing what I do best. To go from being on the street to not being able to do the mag or have anything to make use of my time from one day to the next has been soul-destroying.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m very lucky with what I’ve got because I have very low support needs. I would say, in fact, that it is quite a relaxed atmosphere. But our movements are observed, which they didn’t tell us at the start. We found out via security staff.
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.
“There is nothing really to do, there is only so much that you can entertain yourself with. You can go out and meet up with a friend and I’ve been able to do that and enjoy the weather, but there is only so much you can do.
“To be honest, it is six and two threes on whether I feel safer in the hotel. I’m streetwise, I know where to stay away from and where to go to. But in the big hotel where we are in now we have security staff and it is pretty well monitored with who is going in and out. I’m also in one of the smaller hotels with up to 42 people at once, some hotels have 300 people in.
“We’ve got nurses who come in every day and you have the option of a test. If somebody is showing symptoms of the virus they are expected to self-isolate. If they do come out of their room they are provided with PPE and masks. I’ve seen that happen, two guys have had symptoms and they were in different parts of the hotel. Because I was in the basement at one point they asked me to move out to a different room and I said I wouldn’t go to a room where they had been staying. I moved out to another room and those two guys were housed in the basement until they recovered from the symptoms of the virus.
“I’m really missing selling the magazine. It’s hard. I miss that interaction with people. It kept me sane really.”
We can only keep supporting vendors like Kris through the Covid-19 pandemic with your help. You can buy one-off issues or subscriptions from The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.
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