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May 01 2020
Vendors on edge

“I’m bored and starving,” says Kris. “I used to sell the Big Issue 7 days a week and have human interaction. Now I’m not able to work. At the hotel where I’m staying I’ve been told I can’t do a temporary key worker job because of Covid-19. If I’m honest I’m struggling: it’s borderline like a prison. I’m in a standard hotel room with an ensuite and a TV. I got a kettle from St Mungo’s, but that’s it. I’ve asked for newspapers, it’s the Sun I want. The hotel has WiFi but with that many people using it for video chatting, it doesn’t always work, and premium WiFi is £10 a week!”

Kris relies on food deliveries to the hotel. “I’m supposed to avoid dairy, but the food that’s sent in is expecting me to live like a vegan, but I eat meat. I’ve got no cash, but I get vouchers off the Big Issue of about £25 a week.  As the food is pants, you try living off £5 a day with no cooking facilities.”

Even having a quick sociallydistanced chat is discouraged. “The hotel has a private garden but police are in and out ready to give dispersal orders. When two guests are having a smoke please leave us alone,” says Kris. “Even a 5-minute conversation can make someone’s day at the moment.”

Big Issue vendors' only income came from selling this fab weekly mag. Since the pandemic Big Issue is trying to increase its online sales. 

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