Big Issue vendors are valued members of their communities. Their loss is not only to the Big Issue family but to the customers and friends with whom they’ve built relationships.
John Byrne, London
John Byrne, 59, was a veteran seller who was also a Big Issue vendors coordinator for Oxford Street, London. “John had many layers to him, and we will miss all of them. He was welcoming and funny, always with a good story to tell,” said Natalia Stevenson from The Big Issue Foundation. While selling The Big Issue, John studied an undergraduate degree in English Literature and History at Goldsmiths University.
He told us in 2016: “I loved every minute. I got on really well with the other students, despite being older than them. I continued selling the magazine because it helped me pay my way and I still struggled to get
decent housing.” Byrne’s daughter Sarah remembered how her father loved his work. “He told me how much he loved it all, especially the people he would meet selling The Big Issue. I think it was great for him as it gave him a routine and a reason to get up.”
Ian Knowles, Aberdeen
Ian Knowles used to be a trawlerman until an accident on a boat injured his back. “I didn’t like being stuck at home not able to do anything, so I started as a Big Issue vendor,” he told us in an interview. “On my first day, The Big Issue gave me the usual five free magazines to get me started and I sold them in an hour. So I bought some more and thought, this is going to be the job for me. I enjoy it because I get on with people and I’m polite.”
Michael Crean, Plymouth
Sue Owen, a Plymouth-based frontline support worker with The Big Issue pays tribute to the much-missed Michael Crean.