We’re helping Amanda with a rowing machine to boost her health in lockdown

The Cardiff vendor has been hit by ill health in recent months that has left her struggling to walk. So The Big Issue is supporting her to keep her fit and improve her mental health

Coronavirus lockdown is taking its toll on Big Issue vendors’ physical and mental health – that’s why the vital help we’re offering extends beyond food and cash.

Popular Cardiff vendor Amanda Hill’s well-being has been significantly impacted by months of ill physical health that has limited how much she was able to sell the magazine pre-lockdown as well as leading to anxiety and depression.

So The Big Issue has bought her a rowing machine to enable her to work on her health and fitness while she is in lockdown.

As well as acting as a carer for her husband, who has sight problems as well as mental health concerns, Amanda has been struck down by arthritis in her back that has made walking difficult. She’s also suffered a series of chest and throat infections since Christmas.

I can’t wait to get on the rowing machine. I’m really excited, it’s really cheered me up

Amanda told The Big Issue that she hopes the rowing machine will enable her to boost her health.

“Since Christmas I haven’t been able to work because of my back and I’ve also been ill so that has made me avoid the city because I was worried about catching the coronavirus,” said the vendor, who sell the magazine outside Waterstone’s and the Hilton in Cardiff as well as in Pontypridd.

“It’s scary because every time I’m ill I’m worried that it might be coronavirus and it has been very hard to get a test at the moment unless you are at death’s door or work for the NHS.

“I’ve also got arthritis in my spine so I’ve been piling on the weight because I can’t walk far without my back hurting. I can’t get any exercise that way.

“Years ago I had a rowing machine so I’m hoping that if I take it slowly I can build up the strength in my back a bit and lose some weight at the same time. I also get depression and anxiety as well so exercise is good for that too.”

Amanda, who has represented The Big Issue at Cardiff’s annual Pride celebration for the last couple of years, is finding lockdown life difficult.

DID YOU KNOW…

The Big Issue magazine is read by an estimated 379,195 people across the UK and circulates 82,294 copies every week.

She’s already looking forward to get back on her pitch and The Big Issue will continue to support her while she is temporarily unable to sell the magazine on the streets.

“It’s been horrible being locked down. Both me and my husband suffer mental health problems and not seeing family has been really hard,” Amanda added.

“It’s hard looking after him but it is just something that I have to get on with and do. The pain is that I don’t get that break that I used to get from working and having that time apart.

“We’ve had payments through from The Big Issue, they’ve helped me to sort out a food parcel delivery and they are looking into more help for me. They’ve been amazing. Thanks to them for their help and I can’t wait to get on the rowing machine. I’m really excited, it’s really cheered me up. I just can’t wait to get back to work now.”

We can only continue to help vendors like Amanda with your help. 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 Sainsbury’s, McColl’s, Co-op, Asda or WH Smith to grab the latest issue. Or you can buy one-off issues or subscriptions from The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Image: David Wagstaffe