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Big Issue vendor Will Payne hangs up his tabard for new job as a street cleaner: 'I love it'

Bristol seller Payne has got a job cleaning Bristol’s streets but he still wants to do his bit to help The Big Issue support others

Big Issue vendor Will Payne

Will Payne. Image: Exposure Photo Agency

Big Issue vendor Will Payne is used to trying to clean up on Bristol’s streets when he sells the magazine – but now he has bagged a new job as a street cleaner in the city. 

The 59 year old spent a year working as a vendor outside Better Food in the St Werburgh’s area of the city after turning to the Big Issue in a time of crisis.

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Payne packed a lot in those 12 months including “the highlight of his year” featuring on the cover of the magazine after representing vendors and quizzing politicians at the Labour and Conservative party conferences.

Even though he will no longer be selling the magazine, festival fanatic Payne insisted he is not done with the Big Issue just yet.

“The Big Issue is the best comfort blanket in the world for me. I know it’s always there and that’s why I always want to give something back,” said Payne.

“It helped me recuperate after I had a bit of a breakdown and I was a bit of an alcoholic. I lost it and ended up in hospital and couldn’t really do any heavy stuff so that’s where the Big Issue came in. 

“It was a hard wrench to go to work away from my pitch. There were people who used to come to the Better Foods shop just to see me. I love all my customers. Honestly, it was like having loads of best friends.”

Payne started his new job on 18 December after applying for a job at Bristol City Council months ago.

The role allows him to combine the social aspect of being out and about on the streets that he enjoyed while selling the magazine with a different line of work.

“I wanted something that was away from what I’ve done for the last 30 years,” said Payne, who previously spent years working at festivals before selling the Big Issue.

“I love it. I love being outdoors. I love pushing my barrel, chatting to the punters and the lovely people in Bristol. It’s really nice.”

While Payne has swapped the flexibility of selling the magazine for the early starts of 6am to 2pm shifts as a street cleaner, he already has plans for his spare time.

The popular vendor now wants to spend his spare time volunteering to help the Big Issue dismantle poverty for others who needed support like him.

“I want to find my niche. The people in the office do a lot of things and I think there are certain things I could do. I know all the events in Bristol and festival organisers around the country,” said Payne.

“I’d like to volunteer to do little events where people sell the magazine like I did. I’d like to use my holiday day to help with that and write stuff.

“I want to co-ordinate with offices and see what possibilities there are because even though I’m working I feel like the magazine is my little baby. I’m never going to leave it.”

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