Vendors from across the UK have told The Big Miss You Podcast what they’ve missed most during the months when they have been unable to sell The Big Issue.
Unsurprisingly for regular listeners, the great Big Issue-reading public came out on top.
“I’ve missed the public, I’ve missed conversations,” said Brighton vendor Pamela Clark.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, vendors have been unable to sell The Big Issue since March. This is set to change next week, as they will hit the streets again from Monday 6 July.
“Oh, I’ll be glad to be back,” said Kris, who sells the magazine at Marylebone station. “I was only on my pitch for about two months when this lockdown commenced and I actually got to know some very good people. Not being able to see them, it’s not the same.”
Many vendors also talked about the loss of income, and the disruption of their routine which has come from not being able to work.
Unsurprisingly, the combination of money worries, boredom and loneliness has had a negative impact on mental wellbeing for some.
“I know a lot of people on my pitch. I treat them as part of my family, because I don’t have a family myself. I’ve been missing the social aspect, as well as the sales. I’ve had days when I’ve been really down,” said Dave Martin, who is looking forward to getting back to his pitch in Hammersmith.
All the vendors expressed their excitement at getting back to work.
Kenny, who sells the magazine in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, said: “I am excited, I’ve been buzzing since I got told. What have I missed the most? It’s got to be the people of Stockbridge.”
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Whilst they have been unable to be on the streets, The Big Miss You Podcast has been a digital street corner, celebrating the important relationships between vendors and their customers.
Since this period of enforced separation is about to come to a close, this week’s special edition of the podcast – which features the voices of many of our vendors as they look forward to returning to work – will be the final episode.
“It’s been a real honour to offer a platform for the voices of The Big Issue’s team of vendors,” said The Big Miss You Podcast host Laura Kelly. “They are an inspiring bunch. Hearing their stories and their experiences of the lockdown has reaffirmed the vital role that The Big Issue plays in UK society.
“I hope that the podcast has tided supporters over through the lockdown – and that they’ll all go and buy their Big Issue again next week. We can all do our bit to help vendors get back in business.”
You can also read more from our vendors in the next edition of The Big Issue, which will be on sale from your local vendor from July 6. Find out more about how they are getting back to work here.