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Big Issue vendors swap pitches for sailing on the high seas

Four Big Issue vendors from Bath crewed a ship along with Tall Ships Youth Trust to sharpen their sailing skills

Four Big Issue vendors have left behind their pitches to try their hand at sailing in a voyage to the Isle of Wight.

Intrepid sellers James Heaton, 46, Tate Atlas, 27, 55-year-old Dean Hoy and John ‘Tip’ Daniels, 42, who sells in Devizes, set sail from Portsmouth with youth sailing charity Tall Ships Youth Trust (TSYT) on August 21 in a rare chance to crew a boat.

It was the second time Heaton, who sells the magazine outside Waterstones in Bath, had the chance to work on a vessel after taking on a four-day voyage to France in 2019.

He welcomed the chance to set sail once more and wants to use his knowledge to volunteer with the charity. “It’s the best day I’ve had this year and I’ve actually had quite a lot of good days, so that’s saying something,“ said Heaton.

“I’ve learned lots of new skills and refreshed my memory from when I did this before. And it was brilliant just sailing under the sails because last time I did this it wasn’t very windy, so we did a lot of motoring. It was a real team building-experience and I’d love to come back as a volunteer.”

The team-up is part of The Big Issue’s drive to help Big Issue vendors pick up skills and try new experiences while selling the magazine.

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The four vendors travelled down to Portsmouth the night before the voyage to meet the crew and stay onboard the vessel for the night before the day-long sail.

The experience was eye-opening for Atlas, who sells the magazine outside TK Maxx in Bath.

“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do anything like this and I’ve never sailed before,” the vendor said. “But I enjoyed learning new skills, getting stuck in with all the different jobs and I’d love to come back again. I feel like I’ve worked hard and the crew were lovely and we were a nice mixture of people.”

Hoy, whose pitch is based outside The Ivy Brasserie in Bath, felt the activity boosted both his teamwork skills as well as his sailing knowledge. 

He added: “I enjoyed the physical activity, learning how to tie different knots and working the winches.

“I was given the chance to work on my leadership and communication skills and it felt good to have a key person in charge to make sure everything was smooth sailing.”

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Tall Ships Youth Sailing Trust is the UK’s oldest sailing charity and usually supports 12- to 25-year-olds in a bid to inspire them through life-changing experiences at sea.

However, the charity also runs an adult voyage programme for adults aged between 18 and 80 designed to fund its youth work. A Big Issue supporter sponsored the trip to allow vendors to try their hand at sailing.

The TSYT skipper Mike Miller said: “We had a lovely day sail with the guys from Big Issue in Bath. Not too much breeze but plenty of tacks, knot lessons and laughter. A really enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable day for all.”

The Big Issue’s Bath sales and outreach worker Chris Taylor, worked with Tall Ships to create the opportunity.

He said: “The chance to sail with Tall Ships is a great experience for our vendors but it does offer so much more. It provides a time away to think about their lives and time to be inspired to take on new challenges and opportunities in life. The Tall Ships programme has the potential to change lives.”

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