Clive, 55, outside Theatre Royal, Royal Parade, Plymouth

"Alcohol dominated me for 20 years but now theatre fills that gap"

Two and a half years ago I gave up alcohol and smoking cannabis and then about 18 months ago I was diagnosed as bipolar. That left me feeling very isolated and depressed when I went to The Big Issue office so I was given free tickets to watch a show called In My Dreams I Dream I’m Dreaming in a small theatre called The Drum. I was completely taken aback – it was in your face and I loved it. But I didn’t have the courage to speak to any of the actors at the post-show talk.

The next day I opened the local paper and saw a write-up of the show and it explained that there was a project at the theatre called Our Space that was all about helping people like me who have a big space in their life. So I got a pitch outside the Royal and got involved – I’ve been here ever since. I’d never even seen a show or had any interest in the theatre before.

When I put on that red tabard I am just Clive the Big Issue vendor and I have the confidence to speak to people and do all the things that a person can do

I go to Our Space at the theatre every Thursday for two hours. It’s a group of between 10 and 25 people from all walks of life. It’s all people who have been vulnerable in their life at some stage. At first you think it is hard work because you have to open up yourself in front of other people. After a few months you are going along and thinking, ‘I’m really enjoying this now’. It helps to release your personality.

Alcohol dominated me and was my conversation for 20 years, and Our Space fills that gap brilliantly. It makes the difference and gives me a solid foundation to build on. Selling The Big Issue grounds me too – when I put on that red tabard I am just Clive the Big Issue vendor and I have the confidence to speak to people and do all the things that a person can do.

When I was really on my arse around 12 years ago in Covent Garden in London, The Big Issue saved me and it has done the same in the years since then. In many ways, The Big Issue has been the only thing that’s made me a part of the real world. I have been fortunate that The Big Issue has helped me to be a bit more of a person. The Big Issue has brought me to the theatre’s door and the theatre has helped me to take it further – I feel that I can tackle what’s in front of me.

Selling The Big Issue here means everyone has to get to know me at some point so I have to get to know all of the staff. And now they have all become my extended family.

About Me

My dog Geezer

Geezer has been with me since he was a puppy and he is always with me on my pitch – though he is far more popular

My acting dream

I would love to get on the stage – I want to go from walking the streets to treading the boards

I’m on my pitch…

I’m here five or six nights a week from 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Photo: Trevor Burrows

Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, UK