News

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.”

Support the Big Issue

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.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?
Work

FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?

Almost no recorded cases of disability benefit fraud despite DWP crackdown: 'PIP fraud is a non-issue'
dwp pip/ disabled person
Disability benefits

Almost no recorded cases of disability benefit fraud despite DWP crackdown: 'PIP fraud is a non-issue'

Deaf man awarded £50,000 after 'oppressive' and 'discriminatory' treatment by DWP
dwp jobcentre
Department for Work and Pensions

Deaf man awarded £50,000 after 'oppressive' and 'discriminatory' treatment by DWP

Green transition: Help retrain gas workers or risk 'cliff edge' job losses, government warned
Green transition

Green transition: Help retrain gas workers or risk 'cliff edge' job losses, government warned

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know