Meet Our Vendors

Jinx Sandeman, 40, Boots, Broadmead, Bristol"Over Christmas I was living in a tent on a roundabout on the M32"

Become a vendor

I grew up in Dundee but I left when I was 16.

My dad committed suicide when I was two months old, hence my name, and after that I lived with my grandmother. But she died when I was in my teens so I went to London and sold The Big Issue there. I was always working in London, even though I was homeless. I’ve never begged, I’ve never signed on.

About three years ago I split from my wife and I was homeless again. I’d worked in Bristol before and had been quite successful, so when my relationship broke down and I had to make my own way again it was the first place I came back to. I started to work for The Big Issue again and thank God I did because sitting in a doorway just isn’t my style.

Life isn’t fair, I already know that. I learned that from a very young age so all I’m asking for is a chance. The Big Issue gives me that chance to stand on my own two feet and to be able to look my peers in the eye. At the end of the day, The Big Issue made me stay true to my morals. I’m not expecting anything from life and I don’t want anyone to give me something for nothing.

Addiction has been a big part of my life. It was all about how I felt about myself but now I’m just trying to stay motivated. The night shelter I’m staying in at the moment is a very difficult place to get into, I’m literally the only person this year who was street homeless who got in. I’m there until April 9 so it’s only for the winter, but my bed is booked every night. It’s a dry shelter, and as long as I’m willing to stay clean they’re willing to help me. 

The reason I’m homeless is that I have no family to fall back on. Most people would fall out with their wives and move back in with their parents or a brother or a sister. I haven’t got any of that. Over Christmas I was living in a tent on a roundabout on the M32 but a doctor told me if I carried on in the tent I’d die. When I was in London I had two perforated ulcers. I died and had to be brought back twice. Then I had a bleeding ulcer in October, which nearly killed me as well. 

This pitch has great footfall and my customers are amazing. You’re never going to change your family for a Big Issue customer, but if somebody cares whether I’m there or not that makes a difference to me. If somebody doesn’t see me for a day and then they call me up, that’s important because it means I’ve been missed. There’s a cafe right across from my pitch called the Crazy Fox and the girls in there have been fantastic. I get free coffees and free meals. It surprised me because it’s fucking expensive! But they were willing to help me as long as I was willing to help myself, and that’s a beautiful thing.

I plan to do The Big Issue until I can find permanent accommodation. I get offered jobs but my lack of accommodation makes it hard to accept. I could go back to building – I’m a plasterer by trade – but I don’t discriminate when it comes to work. I do anything. When you’re brought up with nothing you realise you’re always going to have nothing unless you go out and get it. My name may be Jinx but that’s the one thing that I have always owned. No one said it has to be unlucky.

Image: Frankie Stone

59 Broadmead, Bristol BS1 3EA, UK
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