Much-loved vendor Jeff Knight has a message for his customers from lockdown – and The Big Issue is helping him reach the outside world after we bought him a phone.
The veteran Bristol vendor, who has been selling the magazine for two decades, has been spending the lockdown in a campervan after the local community rallied around him last year to raise £7,000 so he could buy his new home on wheels.
It’s a mark of how well-regarded Jeff is in Bristol. He’s known for his upbeat attitude and singing while he is on his pitch and he told us in a My Pitch interview last year that he has become a “local celebrity” in Bristol.
The next wave of #Coronanxiety has hit. If you're feeling anxious, here are some wise words from Jeff! He hopes they will cheer you up.
— The Big Issue (@BigIssue) May 12, 2020
And although the pandemic means that Jeff, 54, can’t lift spirits like he does on his regular pitch outside The Canteen in the city, he still wants to spread the love to his loyal customers.
“I want to tell my customers to keep supporting The Big Issue in print and online and I know that we will get through. I love you all, every one of you,” he said.
“Love is everything ladies and gentleman, everybody, be strong, don’t let this thing get you down. Be strong, keep going, keep fighting.
“Everybody is doing great work in this lockdown – the NHS are doing brilliant work, looking after everybody. I love them all.”
The Covid-19 pandemic may mean that Jeff is temporarily unable to sell the magazine while he is off the streets.
But The Big Issue is ensuring he can keep in touch with us and his loyal customers. We bought Jeff a phone so he can keep in contact and he told us he has been speaking to regulars every day where he can despite the lockdown.
The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
The Big Issue is supporting Jeff with cash and supermarket vouchers, too, to keep him going.
He’s also been looking forward to exercise to stave off boredom while self-isolating in his campervan.
“I look forward to stretching my legs and clearing my mind. That’s keeping me going. But I am happy in the van – it is enough for me,” the vendor told The Big Issue.
“The Big Issue have been really good to me. Everything is a big help at the moment because it is a tough time. Everyone has to keep going.
“I’m hanging on just like everybody else. I’m just waiting for everything to blow over and it soon will.
“I’m missing selling the magazine, though, because it is my life. Where I sell the magazine near The Canteen, everybody out there is loving and caring and they look after people in good and in bad times
“The Big Issue do that too – they are looking after every vendor at the moment and that’s good, they are good people.”
You can help us carry on supporting vendors like Jeff by buying The Big Issue magazine. You can buy one-off issues or subscriptions from The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.
You can keep us going by subscribing to the magazine to receive it every week directly to your door or device. Head to bigissue.com/subscribe for more details.
You can also get a copy in stores for the first time. Head to Morrisons, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, McColl’s, Co-op, Asda or WH Smith to grab the latest issue.