The introduction of level four lockdown restrictions in the west of Scotland has left one Big Issue seller fearful about how he will provide for his wife and six-month-old child.
Constantin Bosilca, 24, usually sells the magazine in Glasgow city centre, but from 6pm on November 20 he will be banned from working for three weeks as increased government restrictions come in to curb the spread of coronavirus in the area.
“At the moment, I’m in a very shit situation. My bills are one month behind. I’m without a job. I still have food but only for one week,” he said.
“I need to buy nappies and milk for a baby. They are not cheap.”
Until recently, Constantin was supporting his family by selling The Big Issue in the mornings and working in a fish factory from 3 to 8pm. But two weeks ago, he lost his job in the factory.
“They texted me and said the factory is not busy, so we don’t need you. And goodbye. That was all,” he said.
He planned to go back to selling The Big Issue full time, as he has in the past. It was a shock when he discovered that source of income would also be cut off due to the incoming government rules.
Glasgow is one of 11 council areas coming under level four lockdown restrictions this week. They are due to last until December 11, and will mean non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and gyms will have to close, although schools will still be open.
The move will affect 2.3 million people, including pushing 95 Scottish Big Issue vendors out of work. They join more than 1000 of their colleagues in England who have been unable to sell the magazine since November 5.
“I’m very sad about it. l’m left out,” said Constantin. “I don’t even know where I can go to ask for help. What can I do to buy food, to pay the bills and all that?”
As during the first lockdown earlier in 2020, The Big Issue offices will be offering support to vendors during the level four lockdown.
“We are working hard to check-in with vendors frequently over the phone to check on their emotional wellbeing, as well as providing regular financial support during this difficult time,” said The Big Issue’s director of sales and operations, Chris Falchi-Stead.
“We are also encouraging customers to buy a subscription to support their local vendor at this time through our new interactive vendor map, with vendors receiving up to 50 per cent net commission from any subscription bought.”
Constantin said it would be “very nice” to get some help, but he desperately wants to earn the money to feed his family.
He is glad that The Big Issue is always there as a way for him to make some money when he is between jobs, but is frustrated he can’t find something more stable.
“The Big Issue know me. They know when I find a job I stop, when I’ve lost my job I come back,” he said. “It’s step up and down, step up and down, step up and down.”
Even when he finds a possible position, Constantin said he faces barriers. He was recently offered work, but couldn’t take it up as he couldn’t afford to pay for transport.
“I found myself a place to work, but they are outside Glasgow. I can’t manage because I have no money and I need to travel there every day, five days a week,” he said. “You have to have money for travel because what you work in the first week, they pay you for in the second week.”
Throughout his struggles to find employment, Constantin said he’s inspired by his young son: “I play with my kid and he gives me the hope to carry on.”
Big Issue vendors need your help now more than ever. More than 1,000 vendors are out of work because of the second lockdown in England. They can’t sell the magazine and they can’t rely on the income they need.
The Big Issue is helping our vendors with supermarket vouchers and gift payments but we need your help to do that.
Please buy this week’s magazine from the online shop or take out a subscription to make sure we can continue to support our vendors over this difficult period. You can even link your subscription to your local vendor with our new online map.