Sam, Superdrug, High Street, Shaftesbury

Sam likes working outside and being on his feet, because it allows him to interact with people

I have been a Big Issue vendor since June 2009 and I have been selling on this pitch ever since I joined Big Issue. I moved to Bournemouth in the same year because I already had a relative here. I made a friend who took me to Bournemouth’s office.  At the beginning I couldn’t speak a word of English. However, I started to learn the language while selling the magazines. That’s how I learned, by taking in everything that I would hear on the streets. When I arrived in Bournemouth, I felt alone. I was such a young age, I didn’t even know where to start from or what to do. 

Big Issue has given me the opportunity to work and earn a decent income. During the pandemic, Big Issue supported us and offered us food vouchers as we were unable to be on the streets and sell the magazines. We were literally staying indoors all day, that was it.  

My favourite part of being a Big Issue vendor is that I get to meet all kinds of people who want to find out more about my life and my experiences. I enjoy the conversations I have with them. Some customers just want to buy the magazine and carry on with their day, it depends on the person.  

It’s difficult with the new cost of living, I have to pay rent and support my children to go to school. Nowadays, I find selling the magazine harder than before. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to sell it for cash and I have noticed that a lot of people say that they don’t have any change. Some customers say that they don’t have enough money to buy the issue. I have a card reader and that’s how I sell most of my magazines. 

If The Big Issue didn’t exist, I would want to help people with their gardening and general housekeeping. I’m used to working outside and being on my feet just from selling the issue, no matter whether it is hot or whether it rains, and I enjoy interacting with people, so I would like to do something like this. Or perhaps decorating.  

When I’m not selling, I spend my time with my children. We play a lot indoors or in the park. I consider myself an avid football fan and I’ve enjoyed playing this sport ever since I was a child. Unfortunately, I can’t play football that much now, but I make sure to follow all champion­ships, whether they are in the UK or somewhere else.  

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I take this opportunity to thank all my regular customers from Shaftesbury. There are some amazing individuals living in the area who have known me for 14-15 years, who have helped me and still continue to support me. These people have been beside me ever since I started selling the magazine. There was a time when I had more regular customers, but some of them have moved from Shaftesbury and I know some of them have sadly passed away. However, I want to say thank you to my new customers as well, and to everyone who buys the magazine from me. 

Words: Paula Gombos 

Superdrug, High Street, Shaftesbury, UK