George Anderson, BBC HQ and Oxford Circus, London

"My tipping point was a rough ride, but with a happy ending"

I have been selling The Big Issue for a couple of years now. I didn’t expect life to take this turn, but I suppose that people rarely do.

I worked for the NHS in Scotland for many years and had managed to build a fairly good life, which all changed around the time of the financial crash. Tipping point meant splitting up with my partner and slipping into negative equity, having to sell the house for less than the outstanding mortgage, leaving me effectively financially wiped out and with no job. Around this time, if it could go wrong it did.

I had a relative in London, who suggested moving here, registering as self-employed and making a fresh start. On arriving in London, I found that my relative was diagnosed with a brain tumour, dying within two weeks of diagnosis. I found myself on the streets with little more than a sleeping bag. I was not prepared for life on the streets, especially in what was then a strange city.

When all doors were slamming in my face, the Big Issue door was wide open and welcoming and encouraging

I saw someone selling The Big Issue and thought I should give it a try. When all doors were slamming in my face, the Big Issue door was wide open and welcoming and encouraging. As well as some much-needed financial support, The Big Issue provided me with a social network of people, many of whom had similar experiences. At first this social support came from other vendors, but then increasingly from my regular customers. I was earning enough to now afford a cheap hostel.

I started selling The Big Issue outside The BBC, and now know most of the staff there, who have been very supportive and kind. The BBC has been a very supportive environment, for which I will always be grateful. Also good for celeb spotting.

I now have a placement one day a week in Wellcome Trust, organised by The Big Issue Foundation. Like with the BBC, the people at Wellcome Trust have been very friendly as well as supportive of my attempts to grow my self-employed business in English editing. Every week I look forward to Wednesday in Wellcome Trust, especially if it’s raining outside. I am now no longer alone in London and my tipping point was a rough ride, but, so far, with a happy ending.

On my pitch… I’m at the BBC building on Wednesdays, and then Oxford Circus on, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday

Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London, United Kingdom

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