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Southsea vendor Bridgette is keeping her mind active thanks to The Big Issue

As well as supporting her in buying food while in lockdown, we’re also buying Bridgette a jigsaw puzzle to keep her spirits up while she is unable to sell the magazine

Bridgette South Sea

The Big Issue is supporting vendors throughout the Covid-19 crisis after we were temporarily forced them to stop selling the magazine on the street.

But as well as meeting basic needs like ensuring that sellers across the country have food, access to electricity and so on, we are also helping vendors with mental health rigours of lockdown.

That’s why we are helping Bridgette to keep up the one thing that has been getting her through self-isolation: her passion for jigsaw puzzles.

The veteran vendor, who turned 65 last week, has been flying through the puzzles since she was forced indoors and off her regular pitch outside Waitrose in South Sea.

Bridgette started the lockdown with 22 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles to keep her going but has already worked her way through 14 of them, spending a couple of days on each.

I miss my customers. Over the years they have become good friends of mine and, in fact, an extended family

So The Big Issue has ordered her another puzzle alongside the food vouchers that she receives every week to help Bridgette keep going while she is self-isolating.

The puzzle, which will be with her this week, also takes in another of her passions. Bridgette is also a big fan of Egypt and her daughter has bought her enough ornaments on theme to kit out her small studio flat, which she paid for with the earnings she would usually receive from selling the magazine.

“I was told many years ago when I was in my early 20s that I had an Egyptian guide and, therefore, over the years my daughter has been buying me birthday gifts and Christmas presents that are always Egyptian,” said Bridgette, who has sold the magazine for 20 years, including 15 on her current pitch.

“Ornaments, cups, fridge magnets, you name it, everything’s Egyptian. Even the bedding, I turned 65 recently and she bought me a duvet set.

“The Big Issue kindly suggested getting me a jigsaw puzzle – I love doing them. I’ve been doing crossword puzzle books too, I’m don’t really like reading books but I love the puzzles. It certainly keeps my mind active and it makes the time go very, very quickly.

“I’ve had regular phone calls from The Big Issue, they’ve been very supportive. I’ve also been sent a lovely gift voucher which has been absolutely fantastic. It’s very, very kind.”

While the puzzles are getting Bridgette through these uncertain times, she is already gearing up for a return to her pitch once lockdown measures have lifted.

That day will bring a long-awaited reunion with her “extended family”, she told The Big Issue.

“I’ve been doing okay, a friend has been doing my shopping for me but I very much miss my pitch as all vendors would. I miss my customers. Over the years they have become good friends of mine and, in fact, an extended family. I’ve barely had much contact with most of them because they don’t have my phone number. I’m very saddened by that.

“I miss my customers very, very much and I want to tell them that I can’t wait to see them.

“I live only about three minutes’ walk from my pitch and it’s a horrible feeling walking past it but all vendors are in the same boat.”

The Big Issue will carry on supporting vendors like Bridgette throughout the coronavirus lockdown – but we need your help to do so. You can support us by subscribing to receive the magazine directly to your device or door. Head to bigissue.com/subscribe for details or go to The Big Issue Shop for individual issues.

Alternatively, you can pick up the magazine from Sainsbury’s, McColl’s or Co-op stores. Or you can get a digital version of the magazine directly from our brand-new app, available for free now from the App Store and on Google Play with the magazine available for an in-app purchase of £2.99.

As ever, vendors will receive 50 per cent of the net proceeds of each purchase.

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

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