Popular Cardiff Big Issue vendor Amanda Hill has died suddenly at the age of 43, her family has confirmed.
Big Issue staff have paid a touching tribute to the Welsh seller, who died in her sleep on March 2, recalling how Amanda always had a “heart of good intentions” and took “took every opportunity offered” in her five-year spell selling the magazine.
The Big Issue helped Amanda off the streets and into long-term accommodation and even supported her with a rowing machine during the first national lockdown to help her exercise and overcome her health problems.
In a piece written for The Big Issue just last week Amanda told of how much she was looking forward to “seeing the smiley faces of her regular customers” once lockdown measures ended and she could return to her Pontypridd pitch.
Big Issue Cymru sales and operations manager Tom Watts said: “Amanda had her ups and downs in the time we knew her, but we saw her joy in finally getting long-term accommodation near her family in the Valleys and becoming nicely settled on her pitch in Taff’s Well near Pontypridd, getting to know people and looking to build her sales long term as well.
“She bestowed the world with her presence and a heart full of good intentions, and she’ll be missed by her family, her friends, and all of us at The Big Issue in Wales.”
Following Amanda’s death, her family intend to set up a foundation in her memory with the aim of “providing support to other people who are dealing with the loss of a parent or guardian through mental health, homelessness or drug addictions”. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to raise funds to launch the foundation.
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Amanda started selling The Big Issue in 2016. She spent eight months sleeping in a tent with her husband, including during the notorious Beast from the East snowstorm in 2018. She told The Big Issue later that year: “Over the winter we were staying in a tent and it was horrible. During the snow and the Beast from the East it was difficult to maintain body heat and our tent broke so our clothes were constantly wet through.”
Amanda featured in the magazine many times over the years and “never turned down the chance to try something different”, according to Watts. He added: “Amanda could chat for hours about anything. She always strove to get what she needed from the world, she took every opportunity offered her, and she never let anything stop her for too long.”
She was the first Big Issue vendor in Cardiff to offer contactless payments and represented The Big Issue at the Welsh capital’s Pride Cymru. The vendor, who identified as pansexual, said she was proud to wear the red tabard at the event, remarking that “if you love someone it doesn’t matter about their sex or gender, it’s about who the person is on the inside”.
She bestowed the world with her presence and a heart full of good intentions
Away from her pitch, Amanda was also a passionate swimmer and represented Cardiff in the sport from the age of 10. She wrote about her experiences for The Big Issue in 2020, giving readers tips on techniques and boosting mental health through the sport.
In April The Big Issue bought Amanda a reconditioned rowing machine to help her exercise while in lockdown as arthritis in her spine and the strain of acting as a carer for her husband meant she was unable to go outside. She said the gesture “really cheered her up”.
Amanda had been in ill health for some time and just last week The Big Issue vendor said she had been treated in hospital for pneumonia since the new year. She had recently split from her husband of 12 years and was in the process of finding a new place to live near to her children.
Despite her health issues and housing troubles, Amanda always remained optimistic and last week praised her customers for supporting her with subscriptions to the magazine during the current lockdown.
She said: “I’ve had three or four subscriptions and it’s really nice because you don’t expect the money then all of a sudden it appears in your account. I know two of them are my regulars because they said they were going to subscribe. It was really nice of them and it gave me a lift.”
Amanda also praised Big Issue frontline staff for “always being there”, adding: “They have been doing so much for me during lockdown. I really want to thank them for the support, the food vouchers and the chats.”
Heartbreakingly, Amanda had signed off her Vendor’s View article in the magazine with a vow to get back on her pitch to see her customers once more.
In a poignant text following the interview, Amanda summed up why The Big Issue meant so much to her. “I’d like to say it’s built my confidence and with all my problems, if it wasn’t for The Big Issue I probably wouldn’t be here so a big thanks to you all.”.