Lockdown 'Devastating Blow' For Local Big Issue Seller

Dave Martin heart-broken he was unable to wish customers Happy Christmas

Dave Martin Hammersmith Big Issue vendor
Dave Martin Hammersmith Big Issue vendor

The Big Issue (TBI) magazine has called for more public support after lockdown restrictions have dealt ‘a devastating blow’ for their vendors on what is normally the biggest week of the year.

Covid-19 restrictions have put London in Tier 4, meaning everyone is urged to stay home, which is having a huge impact on Big Issue vendors

Long-time vendor David Martin, 59, who sells the magazine outside Tesco off Shepherd's Bush Road, had to face the festive season alone and is heart-broken that lockdown meant he wasn’t able to wish his customers a happy Christmas.

“Because of Covid my sales would have been down but I was already getting sales and donations, people have been very generous this year so I’m going to lose quite a lot this week,” said Dave. “And this week is our time of year where we do really well. I wish there was an excuse that means I could go to my pitch but I can’t do it, it’s against the law.

“People will have Christmas cards and presents that they won’t be able to give me so I can’t look forward to that. I have Christmas cards to give people too. It’s all a mess.

“I have one or two cards from my customers which I will be keeping for Christmas Day so I have something to look forward to. If it weren’t for The Big Issue, I wouldn’t have got through the lockdowns this year. It’s thanks to them that I did.”

Dave is originally from Derby but was living on the streets in London when he was approached by a Big Issue vendor who suggested he could make a living by selling the magazine. The job gave him back his self-respect and he now has a flat and has started making art. When he sees a homeless person he will make the same suggestion to them that enabled him to turn his life around.

He says, “In Hammersmith I’m at what I call a residential pitch. I see the same people every day and when I’m not there people worry, they expect me to be there twenty-four seven, and they miss me if I’m not there! It’s nice, and I like it in Hammersmith, I’d like to live here.”

TBI has called upon the public to support the organisation as hundreds of vendors are being forced off the streets.

Christmas week is traditionally the busiest week of the year for Big Issue vendors, but 350 vendors were unable to sell the magazine on the street as the new strain of the Covid-19 virus caused governments around the UK to backtrack on Christmas plans.

Lord John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, said, “With hundreds of our vendors unable to sell, we once again urgently need your support to survive and be there for our vendors beyond Christmas. If you can’t reach your local vendor, please buy a copy of the Christmas special from our Shop, subscribe or make a donation, to enable us to be there for our vendors, both now and in the future.”

If you can’t reach your regular vendor, you can buy a copy from bigissueshop.com for £4, 50% of net proceeds will go directly to a fund which provides emergency payments for vendors. You can also support The Big Christmas Appeal by making a one-off or regular donation, or by subscribing on this link.

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January 4, 2021