The Big Issue is supporting Bournemouth vendor Julie Cherry through the coronavirus crisis – and she is giving back too by volunteering for the NHS.
Covid-19 has not just cruelly and suddenly robbed 51-year-old Julie of the income she received from selling the magazine, it has also taken away her other job as a matchday steward at Southampton FC and Bournemouth FC Premier League home matches.
But selfless Julie has not let the setback stop her from joining the 750,000 Brits who signed up to volunteer for the NHS. Now she is calling vulnerable people in her area to help them with the rigours of the Covid-19 lockdown. She’s also heading to the shops for stricken neighbours and told The Big Issue that she just wants to help out while she’s sat at home.
I’m live on the website, like 750,000 other volunteers, and waiting for alerts to come through
“I haven’t got a car so I’m just calling people near me on the very vulnerable list, there are about 2.5 million people on that list,” said Julie, who sold the magazine outside Winton Waitrose in Bournemouth before the lockdown. “I’ve worked in a hospital before so I know how to speak to people. I’m live on the website, like 750,000 other volunteers, and waiting for alerts to come through.
“I’m sat around indoors and I’m not doing anything so I want to do anything I can to help really. I’m helping my neighbours out by going shopping for them because one is over 70 and the other has a broken neck. There are a lot of people getting the virus and dying from it so anything I can do to help I should do.”
In addition to selling The Big Issue, Julie completed an employability programme at Saints Foundation in 2017 as part of our team-up with Southampton FC. That paved the way for her to start stewarding at St Mary’s Stadium as well as at nearby rivals Bournemouth.
But with the Premier League on indefinite hold, that income has disappeared and made things “quite tight” with her finances.
Julie is particularly feeling the pinch when it comes to looking after her pet dog Jack. The nine-year-old Staffordshire cross mastiff cross English bulldog has been keeping her spirits up while she has been stuck in her flat – but The Big Issue has stepped in to help Julie take care of him.
Our local sales and operations office helped Julie contact the PDSA to receive a monthly flea treatment for Jack and stepped into cover the cost too. We’ve also provided Julie with pet food to help cover Jack’s monster appetite and given her food vouchers/cash to look after herself too as well as offering assistance with utility bills.
There are currently around 2,000 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.
“The Big Issue offered to pay for the flea treatment and I told them that would be great!” said Julie. “Money is quite tight at the moment because The Big Issue pays my bills and so does stewarding at the football.
“I got Jack from another vendor who had him for four years but was really struggling to keep him. He’s a big dog and needs a lot of exercise and she wanted him rehomed so I said I’ll take him because I can walk for England.
“The Big Issue has given me £25 in food vouchers and money and offered to help me pay for my electricity. But obviously Jack is costing me a fortune – he eats better than me!
“Anything helps with him and The Big Issue is also bringing across pet food for him too, which’ll help. I have been buying it but it is expensive and hard to carry. Jack’s a big dog – he’s 44kg and I’m only 49kg!
Jack’s a big dog and needs a lot of exercise and she wanted him rehomed so I said I’ll take him because I can walk for England
“I have been playing with him and he’s been cracking me up with laughter because he never tires of it and it makes me laugh. I think it’s important to laugh at the moment.
“Everybody loves him but no one can go near him and I don’t let anybody stroke him when I’m walking him because if anybody has the virus it gets on his coat then I worry that I could catch it and who’s going to look after Jack?”
We can only keep supporting vendors like Julie with your support. Head to bigissue.com/subscribe for details on how you can receive the latest issue direct to your door or device. Alternatively you can get a copy from The Big Issue Shop or from Sainsbury’s, McColl’s and Co-op stores across the country.