Lavinia Neda came to the UK with her childhood sweetheart and young family in 2012 in the hope of a better life. Settling in Cardiff, she barely spoke a word of English but was determined to find a job, so began working as a Big Issue vendor.
She said: “The first time [selling the magazine] was strange because I spoke no English and it was hard to understand anything. I could just say hello and thank you. People asked me how much my Big Issue was and I had to learn how to say two pounds fifty. But I sold four magazines and I thought that was a good start so I came back the next day.”
Seven years and a lot of hard work later, Lavinia has not only learned English through attending language lessons arranged by the Big Issue, she has now landed her dream job.
“It was really hard for me to get a job before but The Big Issue helped me.”
After impressing employers on work experience placements found through The Big Issue, Lavinia has secured a job at vegan café Wild Thing. She started working there one day a week in October 2019 but has impressed so much that she now works three shifts a week.
It was my dream to have a job by the time my little girl started school and I can’t believe it’s happened.
“It was my dream to have a job by the time my little girl started school and I can’t believe it’s happened. It was really hard for me to get a job before but The Big Issue helped me. I never in my life thought I’d take a job as a barista and now I want to learn so much more.”
Lavinia got the chance to develop her confidence by attending creative writing workshops and went on to receive barista training with local spot Little Man Coffee, before demonstrating her solid work ethic during a placement at non-profit organisation Valley 2 Coast Housing, where she picked up valuable office skills in the finance and customer service departments.