News

Popular Big Issue vendor Rob is taking on a two-year walking challenge

The long-time Kent vendor will be walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End with canine companion Molly and selling the magazine on a pitch across the country as he goes

Rob Longfield Kent My Pitch

Veteran Big Issue vendor Rob is leaving his pitch in Kent after 16 years – to embark on a mammoth two-year walking challenge from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

The 49-year-old, who sells the magazine outside Waitrose in Longfield, will be accompanied by his Staffordshire bull terrier companion Molly on the trek in which he will be sleeping in a tent and selling the magazine from town to town.

The “dream” journey will raise funds for various dog charities. Rob said he has already raised around £1,000 with a percentage going towards living costs.

Former mechanic Rob insists that his time spent walking in the two decades he has lived on the streets has prepared him well for the challenge.

“I feel like I’m ready. I’ve previously walked the 43 miles from Hastings to Dover over 17 hours,” she said. “I was out seven hours at a time walking on Christmas Day and Boxing Day – normally if I go out for walk that’s me out for the day.

“I’m looking forward to selling on different pitches and meeting different customers.”

Rob has been involved with The Big Issue since the very beginning. He was sleeping rough on Victoria Street in London in 1991 when he received his first magazines to sell as an alternative to begging.

Since then he has sold the magazine on and off, but he will be enlisting the help of Big Issue sales and operations offices all over the country as he makes his way southwards.

Rob will be starting at John O’Groats before walking down to Wick and making his way to Edinburgh from there. Once he makes it to England, he will be moving down the east of the country, taking in Newcastle and Hull as well as Norwich, Essex, Kent and across the south coast before going to Plymouth and on to the finishing point at Land’s End.

It’s the reverse of how Garry Buchan travelled through the country. The then-Bristol vendor opted for speed when he went from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 81 days in 2018.

But Rob insists that his customers will miss him as he vacates his pitch for up to two years to complete his challenge.

“All my customers are going to miss me. I’ve been on my pitch in Longfield for 16 years on and off so everybody knows me,” Rob told The Big Issue. “When you’re selling The Big Issue, you are also helping people. You’re helping people to fetch a trolley or helping the old lady across the road. You’re meeting people and that’s what life’s all about – you’re not just stood there selling the magazine. You put a little bit in then you get a little bit out, you put nothing in, you get nothing out.”

Rhys Corley-Morgan, The Big Issue’s sales and operations manager, added: “Rob is undertaking a really exciting and difficult challenge and The Big Issue Operations team will be giving him as much support as we possibly can, both morally and by enabling him to sell The Big Issue magazine in as many locations as possible during his walk.

“It’ll be a big task, with our teams in Scotland, North East England, East Anglia, South East England and the South Coast all working together to give Rob the best support we can.”

Rob will be keeping his supporters informed of his progress with newly set-up Twitter and Instagram accounts. See how he gets on here.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'You live in fear': Leasehold homeowners share horror stories of nasty hidden fees and service charges
leasehold, michael gove
Leasehold

'You live in fear': Leasehold homeowners share horror stories of nasty hidden fees and service charges

Leaseholder rights: How to fight against rip-off service charges – a step-by-step guide
service charges, flats, UK
Leasehold

Leaseholder rights: How to fight against rip-off service charges – a step-by-step guide

UK's top 0.1% earners emit 22 times more transport greenhouse gases than low income households
Climate change

UK's top 0.1% earners emit 22 times more transport greenhouse gases than low income households

Dignified quality of life or gaslighting? Tories' 'triple lock plus' pension pledge divides voters
pensioner
General election 2024

Dignified quality of life or gaslighting? Tories' 'triple lock plus' pension pledge divides voters

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know