Press Release

'I can’t be more thankful to people really.' Cornish Big Issue vendor who lost all his possessions in a wildfire spoke to The Big Issue.

“I was on my pitch in Truro at the start of August when I lost my tent and all my things due to a wildfire at Boscawen Park in Truro."

Big Issue vendor Steve Corbett and dog Blueberry

Steve Corbett and his dog Blueberry recently lost everything when their tent caught fire, and Steve is so grateful to everyone who rallied round to help them Image: Nick Cuthbert

Big Issue vendor, Steve Corbett, 48, who sells the magazine outside of Wilko in Truro, Cornwall, spoke to The Big Issue about losing all his possessions recently in a wildfire that broke out in Boscawen Park in Truro.

Steve Corbett, who has sold the Big Issue magazine for the last 5 years, spoke about when he first found out what had happened: “I was on my pitch in Truro at the start of August when I lost my tent and all my things due to a wildfire at Boscawen Park in Truro. I’d noticed that the field I was staying in had very dry grass and it had started to turn brown as far back as June. I didn’t think anything of it because everything is sort of stamped down where I am.”

He continued: “But I was on my pitch on August 6 and someone came running over to me and said all the fields were alight where my tent was. So I got Blueberry, my dog, and went the mile or so down to where the tent was and the fire brigade and police had cordoned it off. They wouldn’t let us through because of health and safety. It was quite windy that day so the fire had spread very rapidly so it caught the top field and then the tent as well.”

When Steve went to see what had happened, he realised the damage was extensive: “I lost everything. Sleeping bags, the dog’s bed, a radio I used for listening to the Liverpool matches and the football, battery packs for charging my phone, all my clothes apart from what I was wearing that day, my gas stove and a couple of cylinders, my head torch. I also had another tent I was about to move into and that caught fire as well.”

However, the community rallied around him and have helped him get back on his feet: “But people have been brilliant. One of the policemen at the incident phoned his wife up and asked her to take out their personal sleeping bags and his tent and that very same evening he drove into Truro and dropped them off for me which I thought was really nice. Someone also started a crowdfunder for me and it raised about £350. I can’t be more thankful to people really.”

Steve opened up about what went through his mind when he first realised the extent of the damage: “The first thing I thought was: “Damn, where are we going to stay?” because it’s your home, isn’t it? It’s sort of like when someone has a house fire and more than likely they are going to lose things like photographs and personal things that can’t be replaced or they’re attached to. Homeless people don’t tend to have that sort of thing.”

He added: “It happened around lunchtime and I did think: “Imagine if this had happened at night time when we were in the tent?” Luckily over the last few days we’ve had our first few rain showers because prior to that we’d had a long time of constantly hot weather. Even when I moved into the new tent, the fire brigade said they were anticipating more fires because of how dry everything was.”

Steve concluded: “I’ve been sleeping rough on and off for about seven years. I became homeless because of a build-up of a few different circumstances and, other than some time when I was doing some construction work and staying in a static caravan, we’ve been in a tent. I’ve always been around the South West and it is home to me and Blueberry. She’s a Border Collie and she’s nearly 10 and I’ve had her since she was six weeks old. She’s brilliant and we’ve sort of developed a way of communicating with each other that doesn’t involve talking. We must have walked thousands of miles around the coastal path down here. I must have walked around Cornwall about six times. It seems big when you’re on foot but over time you get used it and counties don’t seem so big.”

Read the full interview in The Big Issue Magazine, out now.  You can buy a copy from your local vendor or by taking out a subscription at www.bigissue.com/subscribe.

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