The digital edition of The Big Issue in the North is now on sale in Leeds and Sheffield following the launch a few weeks ago in Manchester.
Wes is one of the vendors in Leeds who will be selling the new digital cards alongside the paper magazine. Originally from Somerset, Wes has moved around a lot. He’s sold The Big Issue in the North for about six months but previous to that he sold The Big Issue in Wales for about two and a half years.
Wes thinks the digital edition of the magazine is a good idea. “With the way technology is going, all publications have to start looking at going online – it’s evolve or die out. There’s a lot to be said for a book or magazine you can hold in your hand and touch, but with the fast paced life people live now and the fact that a lot of people prefer to use the internet, you have got to have the choice available. The digital version of the magazine is so accessible. If you leave a paper magazine on a bus, it’s gone but you’ll be able to access the digital magazine from any computer.”
“The worse that can happen is that sales will stay exactly the same, but the digital magazine does give us an area for growth. We are reaching an extra bit of the market which we weren’t reaching before.”
Wes has struggled with addiction for years since being a teenager. “I started using drugs on the party scene,” he says, “but whereas my mates stopped at using recreational drugs, I carried on and kept experimenting. I just didn’t know when to stop.” Now 33, he’s spent much of his adult life battling addiction and suffering a series of relapses which have led to two periods in prison.
But Wes is getting his life back together. He’s got a permanent pitch where he sells the magazine, he’s in a bedsit and he’s hoping to get into a rehab unit very soon.
He sells The Big Issue in the North both to get some extra money but also because doing so gives him a bit of structure. “If I wasn’t selling the magazine, I wouldn’t have anything to do with my day really. It gives me something constructive to do, a reason to get up and get moving, and it provides me with a way I can get by and better myself through my own initiative.”
“The fact that I am working, not begging, is important to me. I would never beg. I have to buy the magazines and then make a small profit on them. It gives me more self respect. I might stand there all day and only make a tenner and there are probably beggars who could make that in a couple of hours, but it’s important to me to know that I’ve worked for that money – it has more value.”
In the future, Wes hopes to carry on getting his life back together. “I don’t want anything special,” he says. “Just somewhere decent and safe to call home, a decent job I enjoy doing, a partner I suppose. Nothing extravagant. After the life I have lived, the simple things, things a lot of people take for granted… well I would be happy with that.”