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Nine-year-old boy sets example for how to behave in post-Brexit Britain

The kindness of a child has touched all at The Big Issue. Tess Finch-Lees got in touch to tell us about the gallant actions of her nine-year-old son...

While Tess Finch-Lees and her son were shopping in Shrewsbury town centre last weekend, they stopped to talk with their local vendor Samaria. Learning that Samaria is pregnant, Tess’ son offered to take over selling her magazines while she took a well-deserved break.

Big Issue pitches are carefully managed so we always know who is selling where – and children are, of course, not permitted to sell magazine – but in this case it is hard not to be moved by the boy’s heart-warming actions.

Tess picks up the story:

“It was the proudest moment of my life,” she explains. “My son said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll sell while you eat!’”

However pride gave way to dismay when some of the challenges that comes with selling on the streets became clear.

The tangible hostility we encountered was an everyday occurrence for her now

“I watched a succession of people push past my child, scowling and giving him daggered looks,” Tess says. “They weren’t skin heads with Union Jacks tattooed across their foreheads, they were dapperly dressed, silver haired pensioners whose opprobrium was palpable.

“According to Samaria, the tangible hostility we encountered was an everyday occurrence for her now,” Tess continues. “In recent months she has been verbally abused by people who shout ‘F off back to where you came from’ and she has been threatened with physical violence. She told me: ‘I don’t speak anymore, I’m too afraid’.

“A man who was sitting on a bench with his children, watching the reaction to my son’s act of kindness, expressed incredulity, ‘Is this what we’ve come to?’”

Fortunately, despite some negativity, there was plenty of support from shoppers. Within 30 minutes three copies of The Big Issue were sold and £7.50 handed over to Samaria (who wanted him to keep it).

Tess says: “When she told him that no-one had ever done something so kind for her, my heart swelled.”

Tess hopes that her son’s example will inspire others to keep on supporting their local vendor.

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