For some vendors, life on the streets can go hand-in-hand with addiction issues. Supporting more than 1,000 vendors each year, Big Issue North helps those facing an uphill journey to recover on a daily basis.
We spoke with vendors affected by addiction around our region, to hear their views, how they feel about the road to recovery and their hopes for the future.
After losing his wife in 2010, Ian found himself turning to drink to help him cope. As a result, he lost his tenancy and faced life on the streets. However, thanks to income from selling the magazine, Ian is now accommodated in a flat.
Ian said: “This gives me a reason to get up and get out of bed. I’m here at half six, seven, every morning without fail – rain or shine. Selling the magazine helps pay the bills, for food, food for my dog, Pepper, and council tax.”
“I first started using drugs when I was on the street because it helped me to get to sleep. People think it’s your own fault, but I don’t think anyone sets out to be a drug addict. It’s just some people learn to cope with their problems differently.
“Some people turn to drugs thinking it will make a difference, and for a long time it does. But when you come down off the drugs, your problems are still there. But it’s nice to know that I can rely on Big Issue North. If I’m having a down day, it’s comforting that I have somewhere warm to rest after selling the magazine and a kind ear to listen to my concerns to help me support myself while trying to get clean.”
“I’ve sold the magazine for a long time- 20 years in fact. I was even selling it when it was 80p! I’ve met some lovely people over the years. The support I have received from staff and customers has just been amazing.” “I have had some difficulties in the past and my lifestyle became chaotic. It got to a point where I was concerned that I would hurt myself. So I’m entering into detox. I know that this is for the best. This time I’m finally ready.”
“I have battled with my drinking for a long time. But now, I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s given me hope. If you would have told me a year ago that I was going to be at college and I could be sober, I’d have said you were having a laugh. I feel like I’ve woken up from a nightmare.”
If you would like to make a contribution to the work of Big Issue North, supporting vendors to change their lives, please make a donation to our Trust today.