The Big Issue is 23! We get so much warmth from readers celebrating their vendors we wanted to share it. Here you salute the men and women who have become vital parts of your community. The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding kicks things off…
“I’m shocked The Big Issue is 23. I thought it was maybe 15 tops. It makes me feel so old. I remember when The Big Issue started. A friend of mine was a comedian and he did a joke about someone selling a “Bigger Shoe”. You never know whether something will seep into the culture but now everyone knows about it.
“I always used to buy The Big Issue off the same dude when I first moved to London and was living in Hackney. We had a bit of a rapport – you always do, don’t you? There was another vendor when I was editing my show recently, who sold it outside the Pret A Manger in Soho, by that cobbled bit with the market. He was always really funny. He had a massive beard and looked like a Viking!
My mind is always blown by the covers – interesting people and iconic pictures of those people
“My mind is always blown by the covers – interesting people and iconic pictures of those people. I will see it and think straight away that I need to get one of those. I saw the Eddie Izzard one recently and I loved it, that was amazing.
“There is something really cool about the Big Issue in an understated way – but also what it represents. It is an amazing idea.”
Kalin Boyadzhiev, vendor (pictured above with Noel Fielding)
“The Big Issue is very important to me, it is my job. I have never seen Noel Fielding’s comedy as I don’t have a television. But I would like to see his show. I think it would be fun, judging by his clothes.”
Dyana Rodriguez, whose regular vendor sells outside Planet Organic on Torrington Place, London
“It was pelting down but he was there with plastic covers on his papers and a big smile. We always have a good chat. He is performing in an opera next month in aid of charity.”
Jack O’Connell, new British acting heavyweight
“A good pal of mine, Andy, is a vendor. We cheer each other up when necessary.”
“I’m writing because I saw that Robert, a vendor at Waterloo, was having a rough time the last few days. He was feeling down about the future and the rubbish comments that some people make. I just wanted to say that Robert lifts my day whenever I see him. We’ve had amazing conversations about art and photography. When it’s pouring with rain he’s told me to get back inside and take the tube, and he’s even insisted on giving me a copy of The Big Issue for free! I am hoping that things improve for him, and that anyone walking past him will see what a great guy he is! Wishing Robert all the best for the future.”
“I would like to commend my vendor Rab who sells outside WH Smith in Perth High Street. He is always cheery, whatever the weather. We crack about all sorts of things, including ‘losing’ the Scottish referendum.”
“Hard-working, ever smiling, always enjoying a good chit chat… Anna, whose pitch is outside Waitrose, Chesham, was conspicuous by her absence for a couple of weeks. Where was she? What’s happened? Is she OK? Being missed speaks volumes in my book. Thankfully she is back now!”
“Bernie [above] always brightens us up with his jester hat. Top bloke,” says Richard of his vendor, sells outside Co-op on Mutley Plain, Plymouth
“I couldn’t let this opportunity slip by to mention Richard, my local vendor outside Partridges on Gloucester Road. I pass him most evenings on my way home from work and always stop for a chat and a coffee. His outlook on life is so refreshing and his positivity is infectious! He never ceases to make me laugh while he tells me stories of his quirky encounters and conversations with the local commuters, many of whom he knows by name!
“Recently I stopped to buy a Big Issue from him on my way back from a tough job interview for which I was successful! He was full of congratulations for me. The next time we caught up he said cheerfully, “I’ve been saving something for you” and pulled out a card! ‘Good Luck in your new job!’ it said. Inside it he’d written the famous Oscar Wilde quote: ‘All of us are in the gutter but some of us are looking up at the stars.’”
“I’m impressed with the attitude of Rich. He travels from Huntingdon to Peterborough to buy his magazines then back to Huntingdon to sell!”
“Great to see Mikey in High Street, Sidmouth, each week. Always cheerful.”
Mackenzie Crook, The Office geek
“There is a vendor outside Leicester Square Tube station most mornings. He’s just a lovely guy. He seems relentlessly cheerful, with a positive attitude, wishing everyone good morning. There’s no pressure to buy a magazine, you don’t get the feeling that he’s trying to charm you into buying a magazine, he’s genuinely wishing you a good day. It’s a good way to start the day when you see him. He brings a smile to your face.”
“He lends me things… a book about Bob the Street Cat and a lovely framed map of Lebanon when he found out my husband is Lebanese,” says Annie about vendor Eddie, whose pitch is outside the post office in New Milton, Hampshire
Keely Anne Hill
“Love Birmingham vendor Ollie’s smiley face [above] so much I just had to take his picture!”
“‘Smudger’ outside New Street station, Birmingham, is hard-working, courteous, polite, entrepreneurial and has a memory like an elephant for people. He looks after his pitch chatting to suits, local business owners and homeless alike, keeping the street clean and tidy, helping lost visitors with directions – I’ve even witnessed him putting a bin fire out!”
“A big thank you to the Irvine Bridgegate vendor for always being so good natured no matter the weather. Always says hello when he sees you.”
“My compliments to Reg who sells on Bangor High Street – he’s the friendliest guy on the planet.”
“Started buying The Big Issue again, thanks to Simon in Lowestoft.”
“I would like to celebrate Joe outside the church in Exeter High Street. He has just got his life back on track again.”
“David Stanbury is the regular vendor at Cowick Street shopping precinct in Exeter. He is unfailingly courteous. We value his good-humoured presence.”
“When I was 16 I did Bugsy Malone in the West End. There was a guy who used to sit at the stage door of the Queen’s Theatre who sold The Big Issue. He used to sing the songs and I’d stand and talk with him for ages.
“This was 15 years ago but I saw him in Soho the other day and I grabbed him. He looked a bit baffled but I was like: “I used to sing with you outside Bugsy Malone.” He went in his pocket and found this bit of paper that I’d written to him on when I was 16 – it was so lovely it made me cry. I was so relieved he was well and happy. We stood in the middle of Soho singing: “We could have been anything that we wanted to be…”
“The Big Issue vendor who positions himself between Warren Street station and Triton Square is a lovely old man with a full beard who rocks a dope army jacket! He had a pleasant conversation with me about that week’s magazine [Kate Bush], which was lovely.”
“‘Ash’ – normally outside Boots in Newport – is a top man, always have a good chat with him.”
Ian Rankin, Rebus crimewriting heavyweight
“My vendor Bob’s a great character – the kind a novelist would have to work hard to invent!”
“Rebecca sells The Big Issue outside Boots in Hitchin. It is a pleasure to buy from her!”
Beryl from Brighton
“When I buy The Big Issue from Steve I am helped enormously by his smile and queries as to my well-being – I have the same Christian name as his mother apparently!”
“Geoffrey Arnold [pictured below] is my chirpy chappy selling The Big Issue in the town centre of Hastings. I know he has a lot of ‘regulars’ who are pleased to see his cheery face, especially if the sun’s shining! Good work, Geoff!”
“Jeff sells The Big Issue on Stokes Croft in Bristol. I work in a homeless hostel and see Jeff every morning on my way to work. One day a few months ago, I was dealing with a death at work. I was feeling very low and deflated. This was a person I worked with very closely, who was taken too young and I was devastated.
“I was walking home and saw Jeff. Without a word he just gave me a hug and told me it would be OK. I’m not sure if he knew why I was upset but it didn’t matter. It was that act of human kindness that I needed there and then. Every time I see Jeff I am silently thankful for that day.”
“His smile lights up his whole face and he always has a friendly hello for you,” says Fiona Mills, whose regular vendor Daniel has a pitch at the Tesco in Ellon, Aberdeenshire
“I work night shifts and always see the man who sells The Big Issue on Oxford Street, just by House of Fraser on my way home, with his greyhound dog. He is always cheerful and says, “Good morning’’ to everyone who walks past, even if they do not so much as acknowledge him. A genuinely lovely man, and you can tell that he clearly loves and takes wonderful care of his dog, too.
Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna Everage)
“My local vendor is a very nice Romanian lady, with whom I have a friendly relationship.”