Jeff Knight (pictured above)
Bristol (Clifton Triangle)
I like getting out on the streets early. It’s a habit from my days being on the streets all night, sleeping rough, even though I have someone to stay with at the moment. I’ll be out there at 5am, and I’ll start selling the magazine to catch the kind of people around very early in the morning. It’s good to get a smile and a “Good morning”. That gets the day started.
Bournemouth (M&S, Westbourne)
I get up at 6.30am. I’ve got three young children, aged 11, nine and five years old. I’ll make their breakfast and pack their lunchbox with sandwiches. Then it’s time to get them off to school. The kids have moved schools three times in the past two-and-a-half years because of our problems with housing and homelessness. It started back in 2006 when I signed our council house over to someone else. Since then it’s been dealing with problems with private rented places and temporary housing. Our current landlady has told us she’s selling up, so my mornings have been full of calls to social services and to Bournemouth Churches Housing Association, to see where we might be able to go next. Anyway, after I get the kids to school I’ll start thinking about getting to my pitch to start selling the magazine. It’s been a big help while things have been tough.
Peter ‘PJ’ Cowles
Darlington (High Row)
I’m working really hard at the moment to set up my own business. My plan is to set up a window-cleaning and odd-job business, and The Big Issue has been helping me get going and earning a living after a difficult time. Some days I try to do both jobs. I might sell the magazine very early in the morning. But by 10am I’m doing my rounds, cleaning windows in the local area – wherever there’s work and wherever I can get to on my bike.
London (Baker St)
Cardiff (Charles St)
I’ve been selling the magazine since 9am but 11am is the time I hit my stride. There are more people around, and that’s when I start selling quite a few magazines. I’m always very polite and friendly because I only have the mornings to sell the magazine at the moment. In the afternoons I’m going to counselling sessions. The Bridge programme – something the Salvation Army arranged for me – has helped me put drugs behind me. I’ve been completely free of drugs for a while now, and I’ve got The Salvation Army and The Big Issue staff in Cardiff to thank for that – they’ve been so supportive.
I’ve been selling the magazine since 9am but 11am is the time I hit my stride
At the moment, I usually need to stop at lunch-time to make some phone calls. I’ve been organising a lot of charity events in Towcester – a jumble sale, a barn dance and concert in a church hall. I’ve been helping raise money for the local church group and the Hope Centre, a day centre in Northampton. When I first came to the town, people were so generous to me, helping me out with things like a duvet cover and a little TV set for my bedsit. So I thought it’d be great to put something back and help others. I’m a bit of local celebrity here now.