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Leicester vendor David Bailey: “Things were looking up before Covid-19”

The seller had been making progress with his recovery from drug addiction before the lockdown prevented him from moving on to detox. The Big Issue is helping him with a smartphone so he can share the experience of service users

David Bailey My Pitch 1393 hollisphotography.uk

David Bailey had been making progress in his recovery from drug addiction before the coronavirus lockdown.

The former lorry driver, who usually sells the magazine from Leicester train station, has spent a quarter of a century battling heroin addiction and moved up to the East Midlands city from Reading in 2017 to be part of the “strong recovery community” there.

He had been due to go into detox before the pandemic triggered the current lockdown but he has been “organised enough” to arrange a prescription to keep him progressing towards the next step of recovery.

I really can’t wait for The Big Issue to be back

David has been such an active member of the Dear Albert rehab programme in the city that he has been asked to contribute to a remote meeting between the group and the local authority to explain how the coronavirus has impacted service users.

As well as supporting the vendor with cash and supermarket vouchers, The Big Issue has provided the 50-year-old with a smartphone so he can take part.

David said: “I need Microsoft Teams to take part so I told The Big Issue and they are looking to sort me out a smartphone. That’s amazing, it’s such a great help.

“I went to rehab a couple of years ago and although I’m not in a 100 per cent clear situation, I’m on a prescription. I learned that a lot of stuff in rehab that has made my ride in life a lot easier. I’ve been organised enough to pick up a prescription weekly and that has been easy to pick up even at the moment.

“Things were moving very positively for me before this happened. I was due to go into detox but I can’t go in now because I have breathing difficulties.”

As well as impacting on his efforts to beat drug addiction, isolation has also tested David’s social skills.

After struggling with social anxiety when he was younger, David was finding that selling The Big Issue was improving his interpersonal skills.

Now he is locked down in his flat alone, he worries that the progress he has made could also be dented if he is not able to sell the magazine on the streets.

“Isolating is something that we, as addicts, are not supposed to be doing. We’re supposed to be avoiding that because you are your own worst enemy when you are sat on your own,” he told The Big Issue. “But in this particular situation you have no choice. I live on my own and I’ve always been quite capable of spending time on my own but there is a limit. After a few days I do find myself talking to myself and wanting to communicate with people. It’s such a pleasure now to actually meet someone, you really appreciate it.

“After treatment for a social anxiety disorder, I started to really love being around people and I started to really need that interaction with people. So not having it now isn’t good, I need to keep practicing it. I really can’t wait for The Big Issue to be back. I don’t want this to go on so long that I lose the skill.

“I want to tell my customers to stay safe, look after each other and I’ll see you on the other side.”

The Big Issue needs your help to carry on supporting vendors like David. You can help us by subscribing to receive the magazine every week directly to your door or device. Head to bigissue.com/subscribe for more details.

You can get individual editions in The Big Issue Shop and, for the first time ever, you can also get The Big Issue magazine in stores. Check shelves in Sainsbury’s, McColl’s and Co-op.

And we have also launched an app, available now from the App Store and Google Play, which is free to download with magazines available for £2.99 in-app purchases.

As ever, 50 per cent of the net proceeds will go to Big Issue vendors.

Image: hollisphotography.uk

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