Dean Porter, 46, outside Tesco Express, Bishopsgate, London

Dean is hoping to take lessons in lap steel guitar to make content for his YouTube channel, and he's seen a few famous faces on his pitch

I’m a distribution point for The Big Issue and I’ve been doing that for a couple of months now. I help Big Issue vendors get their magazines and register for the pitches then at the end of the day I deal with the banking. I enjoy the responsibility, and I was happy to step up and do it. I like the idea of the challenge. I get on really well with the vendors, they’re a great bunch and you get a variety of people really. We’re trying to build up the distribution point because it has been a little slow.

I also sell the magazine on my pitch in Kensington in the evenings and at Notting Hill Market on Saturdays. The market’s really good, it’s actually my busiest day. I get to meet some interesting people and I enjoy it, because if I sell enough I can have the rest of the day free without going back to my other pitch in the afternoon and I can pick my dog up to go for a walk and chill out.

I’ve been selling the magazine in London since I came back five months ago. I’ve been a vendor in the past before I moved up to Blackpool in 2018 because I split up with my ex-wife and she ended up getting the property. It’s so expensive in London so I moved to Blackpool because I had enough money to get a place up there.  I didn’t really settle up north to be honest, so I decided to come back – London’s my hometown so I feel at home here. I’m from the south of the city but currently I’m staying with a friend in North London. I’m sofa surfing. I’d like to sort my own place out eventually, but it’s one of those things where he looks after my dog when I’m selling the magazine. And if he has any errands that need running I go and do that for him. He’s someone I’ve known for years and we help each other out.

I’m hoping if I make enough money on my pitches I can start doing lessons in lap steel guitar. I want to learn how to play that and put my efforts up on my YouTube channel. I’ve only about 35 subscribers but I’m hoping to grow that. I used to have a lot of followers on Twitter but I’m off it now because it’s become too toxic. 

I’m also into cycling – I used to pretty much make a living out of riding bikes as a courier. I’ve done the London to Paris bike ride twice, London to Amsterdam once and another tough one called the Dunwich Dynamo which is a 120-mile ride overnight from a little town in Suffolk. That’s the sort of thing I like doing, being out and about on my bike. 

It’s been helpful to have The Big Issue at this time. You meet all sorts of people really and I do like being here. One of my regulars is Ukrainian and she has lost people back home. I also have a few celebrity customers, for example Matt Tuck, who is the lead singer of Bullet For My Valentine. I didn’t even know who he was until I saw a lad with a BFMV hat. I said: “I take it you’re a fan.” He said: “No, he’s my dad, he’s the lead singer.” I’ve seen him walking with his son a few times now and he’s very down to earth, very pleasant. He’s been very kind to me like so many people have. I’ve also met Emily Maitlis and spoken to Clive Myrie, the violinist Vanessa-Mae too.

I’d like to say to my customers that they’re brilliant and they’ve been magic to me. Everything would have been a lot more difficult if they hadn’t been so decent.

Dean has two other pitches:
Outside Sainsbury’s Local on Church Street Kensington (Mon-Fri, 5.15pm-8pm;
Notting Hill Market Saturday 9am-12.30pm

Interview: Liam Geraghty

Tesco Express, Bishopsgate, London, UK