Big Issue vendor Vulusi Bolmadir had sold the magazine for more than 30 years until the incident took him off his pitch last November. Image: Supplied
A veteran Big Issue vendor, who was one of the first to sell the magazine in London, has suffered life-changing injuries after being struck by a car just metres from his pitch.
Vulusi Bolmadir, known by his customers as George, was left in a coma for two weeks after he was hit while crossing the road near his pitch at Waitrose in Finchley, north London, on November 21 last year.
The 62 year old, who has sold the magazine for more than 30 years, suffering a serious head injury as well as a broken arm and leg and his daughter Lina, 37, has replaced him on his pitch to raise vital funds to support the family.
George’s loyal customers have also set up a fundraiser to help him and his family, raising more than £1,300 at the time of writing.
His daughter Lina said the incident has had a devastating effect on the Bolmadir family.
“We waited a long time for his recovery but he was not the same person. He could not eat, he could not move,” said Lina.
“It’s not the same as before, his mind is different now, it’s like a baby’s mind.
“We have brought him home but he has a small room up two flights of stairs so it is very difficult for him. My mum is definitely not well either, she’s very traumatised and she’s taking care of him all the time.
“It’s very sad because he won’t be the same strong man there [on his pitch]. He used to be there for hours on his feet and now he cannot speak properly or remember things like before. It’s very hard.”
George underwent surgery at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel following the incident and he was later moved to Shenfield in Essex for further treatment before the family were able to move him home to London.
The loss of George’s earnings and the financial toll of travelling to support him meant Lina had to replace her father on his pitch.
Returning to the scene of where her father suffered serious injury was a daunting prospect but the support of the local community and her father’s long-time customers has helped the family through the last four months.
“I could not even go to the hospital because my mum needed money and I had to take his place selling the magazine,” said Lina. “I was going crying and coming back crying when I was selling the magazine. I was too traumatised. It was very, very hard and still is.
“When they moved him outside London to Shenfield because my mother was going three hours by train there and back and if I did not go one day my mum would not be able to see him in hospital. She needed to go because he did not speak English and she needed to translate for the physios.
Buy a Big Issue Winter Support Kit for £34.99, you’ll receive four copies of the magazine and vendors could receive immediate tools for survival plus access to vital training and employment pathways to escape poverty for good.