Advertisement - Content continues below
News

Big Issue vendor Terry Cokeley: ‘The Big Issue was looking out for me’

London Big Issue vendor Terry Cokeley has started using a card reader now that he is back to his pitches after lockdown. Here he says how grateful he is for the support The Big Issue have given him over lockdown and through life’s ups and downs.

Every week in The Big Issue magazine, a Big Issue vendor tells their story in our My Pitch column. This week 62-year old Terry Cokeley, who sells the magazine at Forest Hill Station and Crofton Park, London, speaks of the support The Big Issue has given him over the years and how much he enjoys football as the Euros are kicking off. 

I’ve sold The Big Issue since 1999 and I’ve been inside through that time and all. Coming out of prison and having The Big Issue to go back to was good, I just spoke to the staff in the office and I was able to start selling again, which was very helpful. What The Big Issue means for me is getting out there and meeting people. That’s what it’s all about.

Lockdown felt like a long time, didn’t it? I was keeping myself busy, out most of the time walking for exercise near the sheltered accommodation where I live. I was doing a lot of that. I was sorted for cash from The Big Issue, the payments really helped and it was very nice of them. They also gave me telephone calls, I was speaking to a woman called Natalia from the office. She’s a nice person, always been there for me. It helped to know that someone was looking out for me.

It’s been great to see all my regular customers again. I was able to keep in touch with some of them as I’d see them at the station in the mornings when I was out walking. I’ve been using a card reader on my pitch recently – at first I found it difficult to use but now I’ve got used to it. I usually buy 20 magazines a week, on my first pitch I’ve only got about five customers but I use the rest over the week on my other pitch. The people are starting to come back out again but it’s mostly shoppers rather than office workers for now.

I’ve loved football since I was a kid. I used to play quite a lot when I was at school, for a team called the Bethnal Green Strikers. I always remember the friendly we played on my last day at school, I was a striker and my girlfriend was in goal. The girlfriend bit didn’t last very long though. My team’s Manchester United and my favourite players at the moment are Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes. It’s great what Rashford is doing for kids in poverty, it’s really good that he’s doing that. I like when appears on the cover of The Big Issue. I kept one back for myself the last time he was on there.

I go to a football group at Millwall on a Friday afternoon and do a bit of refereeing. I don’t really play any more as I can’t run much so refereeing suits me better. I’m hoping to do it properly when the training courses open up again and I can get a qualification. Being a ref, you’ve got to try not to make mistakes but take responsibility for yourself if you do. I learned a lot from watching how they do it on TV but they’re all really bad at the moment. I don’t like the referees in the Premier League because you see players holding another player’s neck in the area and sometimes the ref don’t give it. They know damn well it’s a penalty. That gets me shouting at the TV alright.

Advertisement - Content continues below
Advertisement - Content continues below

Advertisement - Content continues below

Support your local vendor

Give your vendor a hand up and buy the magazine. Big Issue vendors are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. But, at the same time, they are micro-entrepreneurs. By supporting their business, you can help them overcome homelessness, financial instability and other social disadvantages that hold them back.

Recommended for you

Read All
I was a Big Issue vendor and now I'm a furniture restorer
News

I was a Big Issue vendor and now I'm a furniture restorer

CO2 crisis: Why you shouldn’t panic buy
News

CO2 crisis: Why you shouldn’t panic buy

Sabina Nessa vigil: Thousands gather across the country to honour teacher
News

Sabina Nessa vigil: Thousands gather across the country to honour teacher

Excluded from Covid support: How one missed deadline made a man homeless
Employment

Excluded from Covid support: How one missed deadline made a man homeless

Most Popular

Read All
More than 70 MPs back motion to stop ministers lying in parliament
1.

More than 70 MPs back motion to stop ministers lying in parliament

The Big Issue vendor who became London’s happiest bus driver is now bringing drinking water to Africa
2.

The Big Issue vendor who became London’s happiest bus driver is now bringing drinking water to Africa

Climate crisis laid bare as new map illustrates threat of rising sea levels
3.

Climate crisis laid bare as new map illustrates threat of rising sea levels

Shaun Ryder: 'It will always be one rule for them and another rule for us'
4.

Shaun Ryder: 'It will always be one rule for them and another rule for us'