I’m in an employment programme here at The Big Issue sending magazines out to subscribers. They’re people who don’t have regular vendor near them and the companies that support us. Every Monday I come into the office for six hours and I put the magazines into envelopes, personally sign each one and send them out. We also send them out internationally so I frank those and get them in the post. My subs go all over the UK and to places like France, Australia and Japan.
I also spend an hour in the office on a Saturday as that’s when the magazines come in, so I help to get the delivery ready for the next week. I’ve gained other experience over the last year too in IT, I’ve passed a health and safety course and I’m a first aider. If I can get my NVQ I’m hoping to go into IT.
People have a lot of misconceptions about Big Issue sellers, they think we get the magazines free which we don’t
I’m from Cambridgeshire originally and I moved out of my parents’ house when I was 24. I did a lot of travelling, sofa-surfing and rough sleeping, and eventually I thought, the only place I haven’t tried is Wales – and I’ve been here since ’92. When I first came to Cardiff I used to shoplift or sit on a street corner begging. I thought the only way I could sort myself out and earn a bit of respect was to sell The Big Issue. That was about three years ago now.
As well as working in the office here, I also sell the magazine at Queen Street Station in the afternoons. I’m always polite to members of the public. People have a lot of misconceptions about Big Issue sellers, they think we get the magazines free which we don’t. Say I sell 18 in a day I have to run back to the office, get more magazines and carry on selling.
If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.
People can be horrible sometimes. I once asked a man if he’d like to buy one and he just said to his wife, “I’m glad my daughter’s not doing this”. Or they say, “Get a proper job”. I tell them I have got a job. I’m not sitting beside a cash machine asking you to help the homeless. Some people shout at you, some swear, some spit. They turn their nose up at you. My regular customers make up for those people.
I’m making improvements in my life. I’m in private accommodation now and. I get paid every four weeks for the work I do on a Monday. I used to be on Jobseeker’s Allowance but I haven’t claimed that for over two years. I’ve got a regular income and something to get up for in the morning.
I play for TBI office for Street Football Wales. It’s open to anybody either to come and support or sign up to sell The Big Issue.
If you don’t have a regular vendor you can call 01202 586848 to take out a subscription, or if you’d like a corporate subscription for your business, get in touch on 02920 026418.
On my pitch…
I’m outside Queen Street Station in the afternoons and in the Cardiff office Monday and Saturday.Cardiff Queen Street, Station Terrace, Cardiff