A Big Issue seller who went on to work for the company after “falling in love with what The Big Issue stands for” has died suddenly.
Kelvin Willmott sold The Big Issue in Bournemouth for around a decade before stopping in 2016 to focus on learning new skills and volunteering at a homelessness charity Faithworks Wessex and a local food bank.
But he was never far from The Big Issue and continued to volunteer at the Bournemouth distribution office before joining as a member of staff in 2019. Kelvin passed away on May 21 from a suspected heart attack at the age of 35.
Simon Chilcott, the head of service development for The Big Issue Foundation, The Big Issue’s sister charity, worked closely with Kelvin for 15 years and told The Big Issue his loss will be felt by staff vendors and the local community in Bournemouth.
“Kelvin really went the extra mile for vendors,” said Simon. “I don’t know if I ever met a prouder Big Issue member of staff – when he first started working at The Big Issue I think the only bits of clothing that weren’t branded were his socks and pants. He loved The Big Issue and what The Big Issue stands for. It was a massive part of his life.
“Anything we wanted to do, he wanted to be part of it and get involved. He was so passionate and he knew what we were doing with The Big Issue was having a positive impact on the people we work with. He wanted to bring his lived experience into that.”