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The Big Issue was my first job so its hard being unable to sell

Big Issue vendor Lavinia, who has recently joined LinkedIn, is looking to the future and finding new opportunities

More than 1,000 Big Issue vendors are out of work because of the third lockdown in England. They are unable to sell the magazine and can’t rely on the income they need.

We have been checking in with vendors to find out how they are getting on during this uncertain time. 

In this piece, we hear from Lavinia Neda, 29, who usually sells the magazine on Llandaff High Street. The vendor, who has become one of the latest Big Issue sellers to join LinkedIn, talks about making the most of new opportunities.

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.

I’ve been selling The Big Issue for nine years and I enjoy it, it’s part of my life. It was my first job and now it’s very strange being in lockdown. It’s hard not selling the magazine, not being out and seeing my friends and my customers. And of course it’s about the money too, I need it for my family.

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I also have a second job in a café. I love it because my boss is not like a boss, more like a good friend and if you work with nice people you enjoy it. That’s the first reason I love it. The second is that I love to make food. I enjoy cooking at home as well and I’m quite good at it. I do a lot in the café, everything that the chef tells me. The first time I had to make a cake with carrots it was very strange for me. I though, how can you make a cake with carrots? Then I made it and I tried it and it was something amazing.

I have two children, my daughter is five and my son is 12 so he’s not back at school yet. It’s very hard being at home because it’s not like at school where he has his friends and teachers to chat to. When the kids are at school it’s easy, at 3pm you make some food and that’s it. But when they’re at home they want something all the time. But I can’t say it’s only me because everyone is on this page, everyone everywhere. My husband worked for Enterprise car rental but that closed and now he’s doing food deliveries.

I love to make food. I enjoy cooking at home as well and I’m quite good at it

The staff at The Big Issue came and told me about LinkedIn, they said I should go on it because it’s good for your CV and for your future if you want to find a job. I said yes because I always want to try everything that’s new.

I think it’s good because I see that people want to help and I think it’s a good chance for me, and for all vendors. It’s been good for my internet skills too, I’ve learned a lot. I was a bit scared to post something because I thought, maybe I’m going to do something bad!

But I saw a place with nice flowers and it was a sunny day so I posted a photo and wrote that everything is going to be fine. I think LinkedIn might lead to more opportunities for me, I’d like to work in a clothing shop because I love fashion and design. And I like speaking to customers to see if they’re happy. Of course, I got that from selling The Big Issue. I get good energy when people speak nicely to me, when they’re happy I’m happy.

I’d like to say thank you to The Big Issue for taking me into the community, because not everybody has this chance. And I’d like to say hello to my customers too and I will see you again soon. I’m not scared of the virus because if you’re scared you’re going to go into a depression so yes, I am happy. I’m alive, my kids are alive, I have food, I have a home. I thank god for everything. I’m never not going to be happy.

Lavina was speaking to Sarah Reid

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Learn more about our impact

When most people think about the Big Issue, they think of vendors selling the Big Issue magazines on the streets – and we are immensely proud of this. In 2022 alone, we worked with 10% more vendors and these vendors earned £3.76 million in collective income. There is much more to the work we do at the Big Issue Group, our mission is to create innovative solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunity for the 14million people in the UK living in poverty.

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