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I was a Big Issue vendor and now I run my own theatre company

Through a scheme organised by The Big Issue, Emilia Teglia was introduced to Sarah Templeton - a meeting that changed the rest of her life.

Cathy by Cardboard Citizens

A performance by Cardboard Citizens.

In 1999, Emilia Teglia had come from Italy and was struggling with addiction issues and homeless.

“I was really in a bad state,” the now 45-year-old says.

“I spoke English but not a great amount. I wasn’t eligible for any state benefits. I had addiction problems, no fixed abode problems. My view of the future was quite bleak. Luckily, there is something like The Big Issue.”

A scheme run by The Big Issue paired vendors with a mentor and Teglia was matched with Sarah Templeton, who had run a theatre company.

Teglia had always been interested in performance and that mentorship became a lifeline when Templeton introduced her to Cardboard Citizens, which runs theatre workshops with people who have experienced homelessness (also celebrating its 30th birthday this year).

“Don’t underestimate what fun and play can do because it really puts you in touch with your soul,” says Teglia.

“Even though you’ve allegedly got a lot of time on your hands [being unemployed and homeless] I think that loads of people can see now, after 2020, that time on your hands doesn’t equal freedom.”

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For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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