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Popular Big Issue vendor is well on track at train station

Paul Jones has been a big hit with staff and commuters since he started selling the magazine at Bristol Temple Meads station in February

Paul Jones Bristol Temple Meads Network Rail

A Big Issue vendor has made such an impression on his pitch that he is being tipped for a full-time job at the train station where he sells the magazine.

Paul Jones, 45, has been selling The Big Issue at Bristol Temple Meads station since moving from his Wine Street pitch in the city in February.

The move came as part of a unique partnership between The Big Issue and Network Rail to allow vendors to sell their magazines in key stations across the country.

The move to Bristol Temple Meads has been a really great one for me because there are so many more opportunities at the station

Leicester native Paul moved to Bristol over three years ago after falling behind on payments for his flat and spent 18 months sleeping rough before he started selling the magazine.

Proceeds from selling the magazine have allowed him to find accommodation and, after impressing station bosses with his work ethic and demeanour, he could be in line for a job at the station.

Paul said: “The move to Bristol Temple Meads has been a really great one for me because there are so many more opportunities at the station.

“The people are friendly, there are a lot more people going past me and I have no competition as I am the only vendor in the station.

“The morning rush hour can be quite manic because the trains are full so it can be easier to sell when people are on the way home and they have time to chat.

“I was on a two-week trial and that went really well. Since then, I’ve got to know the staff and they have been very friendly towards me.”

Paul has had such an impact at the station that he is in line to get a staff pass allowing him access to the station.

Hopefully by having Paul selling the magazine in the station we have got rid of some of the misconceptions surrounding The Big Issue

And while Network Rail do not directly employ staff at the station, Liam O’Shaughnessy, station manager at Bristol Temple Meads, is keen to help the popular vendor find employment with one of the retailers and businesses within the station.

He said: “Paul has really become part of the team here – as well as increasing his sales he always offers a friendly face and not just for staff but also customers who he even helps out with information when he gets the chance.

“It is early days but we have started to say to Paul, ‘if you want to stay here permanently then get your CVs in to the businesses in the station, you are welcome to use the office to fill out applications and all the staff are keen to help you with that’.

“Selling The Big Issue is about helping Paul progress and, while it would be sad to say goodbye to him if he goes to work elsewhere, that is something that we will have to accept if it means he is progressing.

Paul Jones Bristol Temple Meads station Network Rail
Paul Jones has impressed since taking on the pitch at Bristol Temple Meads in February

“Hopefully by having Paul selling the magazine in the station we have got rid of some of the misconceptions surrounding The Big Issue. We want to help him to work his way into full-time employment and that is what The Big Issue is all about.”

Beth Thomas, The Big Issue’s regional sales manager for Wales and South West, added: “I’m really pleased to see the progress that Paul has made at Bristol Temple Meads.

“And what is really encouraging about our partnership with Network Rail is that progression is at the heart of it. The staff at the station are keen to continue to offer this opportunity to give others a hand up after Paul has moved on.”

Our 2020 Impact Report

The Big Issue has given more than £1 million support to Big Issue vendors struggling due to the lockdown restrictions. To mark the significant milestone, we have published an impact report, documenting the seismic shift the organisation has undergone in the past 12 months.

View Report

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