Sunday, 20 December 2015

Reverse Advent - Day 20


I buy The Big Issue nearly every week.  

My local seller in Llandudno, Chris, has a pitch outside Marks and Spencer and he's there in all weathers.  Not always first thing in the morning but he makes an appearance as soon as he can.  Somedays he doesn't have the money to buy many issues up front so he vanishes over and over again to  buy some more and then dashes back to his spot by the traffic lights hoping he hasn't missed the few regular customers that he has.

Because YES, the Big Issue vendors BUY the copies of the magazine that they sell.  There is a popular misconception that they get these magazines for free and can spend the money they make willy nilly.  Not true and I wanted to put this out on the blog today for everyone to see and to take note of as I am getting annoyed in my own small quiet way at this injustice.  As it states clearly in the magazine each week The Big Issue is 'a hand up not a hand out'.  

The official vendors wear recognisable tabards/waistcoats with their identification for all to see on their breast pocket.  They buy the magazine for half of it's cover price which is usually £2.50.  At this time of year the issues are bigger with much more inside, news stories, interviews and puzzles and  it costs £3.  Which means that the vendors buy each copy that they sell for £1.50 and sell it at a £1.50 profit.  This is self employment at it's most basic level and through the Big Issue Foundation they are taught to manage their earnings, make it work for them in the best possible way and hopefully it will get them on a pathway to a accommodation, employment, socialisation and confidence.

I'm not demanding that you all dash out and buy a copy for yourself ... although of course I would love it if you did, but through this post I would like to ask for more understanding of what the sellers are going through.  

They each have their own back story, their own reasons for what put them in the position of being on the streets selling this magazine and those are not for us to query, question or scoff at.  If you don't want to buy a copy for whatever reason  they are usually polite and offer a cheery 'have a nice day', 'good morning/afternoon'  or at this time of year 'Happy Christmas' or 'All the Best', please respond similarly.  

It takes nothing out of our day to smile and say 'no thank you' and go on our way if we don't want or need another copy of the magazine.  All too often I have seen passers by completely ignore Chris, look at him as an inconvenience, someone just getting in their way as they rush through their day.  His crestfallen look after this happens time and time again is hard to watch.

I bought my regular copy off him a couple of weeks ago late in the morning, he had been at his pitch for a couple of hours and the look on his face as I approached made my day, my day was made even more when on telling me I was his first customer of the day he moved forward to hug me, not knowing what reaction he would get I could sense a readiness to withdraw but we hugged, he smiled, the most glorious smile and as we parted a quiet 'thank you' escaped his lips.

Since that day we have hugged a few times ..... it's not much to ask is it, £1.50 profit and a little bit of human contact.

This week Chris was not in his usual place on Wednesday when I went into Llandudno, but across the road was the new guy that has inched slightly too close onto Chris's pitch.  He's a jolly faced foreign gentleman with limited but well spoken English and I bought a copy off him.  He wished me all the best and I took my copy into Waterstones and read it over a cup of coffee, thinking all the while it was a shame Chris wasn't there.  I needed to pop back to Llandudno on the Thursday so I went prepared.



Reverse Advent - Day 20

A Christmas Card for my favourite Big Issue seller with a Christmas bonus,  to do with as he wants.

I gave him a smile, apologised for missing him the previous day and admitted to buying this weeks copy off his competition ... he gave me a hug and said  ..... thank you.

Sue xx

28 comments:

  1. Your post has summed up everything Christmas should be...I love it. I wish I could buy a copy from Your seller too! I'd definitely spend money on that.

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  2. Thank you so much for saying this. I don't often go where big Issue is being sold but when I do I always buy a copy, and over and over again I am impressed by the courtesy of the vendors.

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  3. A very timely reminder about what this season should mean. I do buy a copy when the opportunity comes my way and our local seller is a really friendly person who has had and still has a lot of struggles in his daily life. Excellent post, as always!

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  4. What a lovely post Sue. I didn;t know any of this and have never bought a copy - but I shall make it my new year resolution to always buy one after reading this. I do hope others will do the same.

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  5. That's a nice story and informative too. It must make them feel less than human to be ignored every day by many people. The Christmas issue looks fun, I'll have to look out for it. I left my bag of sealed box change with a homeless person camped outside our local Asda the other night. He was asleep at the time, so I'm just hoping no-one stole it. At least he might wake up and be able to afford a cup of tea/coffee and a snack.

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  6. Wonderful post Sue! I tear up when I experience someones kindness to others less fortunate. The Big Issue and it's philosophy for its sellers is something that I absolutely LOVE and will always buy a copy when I see a seller. I didn't know that The Big Issue went beyond Australia. "But for the grace of God go we."

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  7. Fabulous post Sue, I have my Xmas copy (it has a different cover in the South West issue) When I am in town I buy them as I think it is a brilliant idea, giving people a sense of doing something for themselves. It's also a very good read.

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  8. Lovely story - I don't always buy a copy but I do always smile and treat the sellers as people and don't just ignore them. Having read the book A street Cat named Bob I am more understanding of the way it all works for the sellers. Thank you for reminding me - I will buy a copy next time I am in town now!

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    1. I do too. I think that it's important to say hello and smile, even if you don't buy a copy.

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  9. This is so much of what Christmas is about. You are a great example to us all, and so is Chris your Big Issue seller. I do hope that it helps him to move on with his life if he wishes to or at least to keep going in his life as it is now. I am sure that you are an inspiration to him, and he is an inspiration to us! Happy Christmas! xx

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  10. What a lovely post :) Big Issue is one of my pet concerns, thanks for highlighting the fact that they have to buy them for selling on, few folk know/believe that.

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  11. This is my most favourite post of the day. It bought tears to my eyes as any act of kindness does in this day and age. I haven't bought a Big Issue for a long time as I never see any sellers in our two local towns but I will always, always give to the homeless I see on the streets. It breaks my heart.

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  12. I bought this issue yesterday while shopping. There are some really interesting articles in it. I was homeless briefly myself when younger, due to family circumstances and it's terrifying. Thankfully, friends and other family members stepped in to help provide accommodation for me but I always feel for those who are homeless. Even if we don't have much, you can't beat the security of having a roof over your head and a locked door x

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  13. Hopefully your regular fellow will reappear shortly

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    1. He was there the next day, I gave him the card and bonus then :-)

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  14. Thank you Sue for such an informative post. I understood that the sellers had to buy their copies for resale, but did not know the figures involved. I always smile at the young lady in our small town and say no thank you. My dilemma is that I don't buy myself any magazines or posh coffees, so I cannot divert the cash from that. I don't think the budget will allow a weekly purchase without disrupting my regular monthly charity DDs, but I will buy one when I can until such time as I can stop having to pay for physio and got the new specs that I will need in the Spring. Thank you for making me try and think it out.

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  15. I bought a copy of the Big Issue for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago - the edition with Bob the street cat on the cover. I was amazed at the contents of the magazine and found it very interesting - subjects as far apart as Charles Dickens to Bob the street cat - were written about. I'm going to buy it regularly now. Much more interesting than some of the rubbish magazines on sale for a lot more.

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  16. I will be brutally honest. I buy Big Issues from ENGLISH people only. I would not have considered buying one from the foreign gentlemen you mentioned.....you even mentioned him encroaching on your favourite sellers patch ?

    I buy from my regulars and trust me, they aren't thrilled at the "foreigners" jumping on the Big Issue bandwagon. The one who annoys me most is a GROUP of Bulgarians who stake out our local Waitrose. I queried from one guy who the other people were and he said, he was doing it that week as X was "home" in Bulgaria.

    IMO you shouldn't have encouraged the guy who was encroaching on your mates patch, it will be your mate who suffers.

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    1. Homelessness is homelessness .... that's all I have to say, apart from to add that anyone who makes the effort to get registered as an official Big Issue seller and regularly stands on the streets in all weathers surely deserves to earn some money .... and a bit of respect. Chris recognises that. The other guy moves over the road when Chris shows up to his pitch.

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  17. Bless...
    xoxo
    And hope you and Hubby & all your fur-kids
    have a Very Happy Christmas !!!

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  18. This is a great post, and you are the epitome of compassion and understanding. Though I live in America, I know of the Big Issue through the books by James Bowen about his cat named Bob and James's years on the streets and how the Big Issue and Bob helped him turn his life around. If you don't know the books, they are wonderful. I hope your regular can use his work with the Big Issue and the generosity of people like yourself to do the same. Happy Christmas.

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    1. I have all James' books and I'm really looking forward to the film coming out soon. It's just finished filming in London. James and Bob have done so much to highlight the plight of the homeless in this country, they are both brilliant.

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    2. Firstly, I absolutely love your blog and read it each day (have done for many months now - but was never sure how to add comment - and I am usually at work!!!). Your posts are so interesting to me as I love reading about your animals and your smallholding (I am so jealous - it looks amazing - even in the Welsh drizzle!). Your last post about "The Big Issue" nearly brought me to tears, as this time of year I can't help thinking about all the poor people & animals that do not have a home to call their own. The compassion and humanity that you so obviously have only goes to prove what a truly lovely person you are. Keep up the lovely posts and have a very, very MERRY CHRISTMAS with your LH and all the animals (especially gorgeous Mavis, who I adore). xx

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  19. Hi Sue, I came across your blog whilst looking for information on Big Issue pitches in Llandudno. I too buy the Big Issue and have done for years. After reading your blog, I wondered if Chris still has his pitch outside Marks & Spencer and if the other gentleman has the other pitch? Hope it's still good in the country. Jennifer

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  20. I am in America and have been reading your blog for several months. Love it! This is my first comment.

    Thank you for your kindness and compassion for the homeless. I am not familiar with the Big Issue but I'm going to look in my library for the books by James Bowen that your commenter "e" mentioned.

    Here in America right now there is such poison in the news that I turn it off and instead really enjoy reading your lovely thoughts. And I enjoy hearing about your pups and sweet cat. Merry Christmas!

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  21. Good for you, Sue. I will always buy a Big Issue when I'm in the UK &see a seller.

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  22. Thanks for reminding us it's the season to be thankful and generous.

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