I was homeless in Southampton, but I decided to make a change and I’ve been selling the magazine here on the Isle of Wight for a couple of months now. It’s going well. Lovely place, lovely people. I’ve done a bit of exploring outside Cowes and the scenery looks lush.
I’ve been made the franchisee for the island, so I’ll see if any other homeless folk want to sell the magazine – see if it can do them some good like it has done for me. Although it’s a beautiful place, I know it has economic problems, a real disparity in wealth. In that way it’s a reflection of the whole country.
I became homeless for the first time when I was a teenager, running away from home
I grew up in Derby. I became homeless for the first time when I was a teenager, running away from home at the age of 15 or 16. Although I sorted myself out and got settled for a while, my problems mounted up again when I was about 25. I decided I wanted to get away and start again.
One day someone told me I could go and stay with a friend in Swansea. I didn’t have any money so I decided to walk the whole way. I still remember long stretches of the A38. I hitched a couple of rides too and got there eventually. I only stayed in Swansea for about six months. It was the start of a period of moving around from place to place.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
I’ve been down in Cornwall, Dorset, Bristol, Bath, Plymouth and Southampton. I have itchy feet, I suppose, and when I started selling the magazine it allowed me to move from town to town. Not only has selling it put some money in my pocket, it’s made me a bit stronger mentally, and made me communicate with all kinds of people.
I’ve been a rapper and singer even since I started listening to music as a teenager. I keep people entertained on my pitch by singing well-known songs and changing the words.
Not only has selling the magazine put some money in my pocket, it’s made me a bit stronger mentally
I love music. I’ve got broad tastes, but I especially love hip-hop. I think a Big Issue vendor is really part of the community, and I’m really grateful to people on the Isle of Wight for making me feel part of things. I’d like to say thank you for putting up with my singing. I can’t expect everyone to like my voice, but I do hope it cheers a few people up.
My 15 minutes of fame… I recorded a single under the name Will Rap 4 Cash. Because of all my singing and rapping in the street, I was interviewed by BBC News. Somebody even set up a Facebook fan club for me for a while.
My favourite albums… I’d say either Straight Outta Compton by NWA or Metallica by Metallica. I love music.
Photo: Robert LongfordSainsbury's, High Street, Cowes