Melissa, Waterstones, Milsom St, Bath

Melissa loves her pitch on Milsom Street, where she works during school hours so that she can spend plenty of time with her son

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I’m very happy that I get to tell my story through My Pitch. I was born in a small, beautiful town called Medgidia, located near the Romanian seaside. My heritage is Turkish, as my great grandparents originated from Turkey. My religion is Islam and I speak both Turkish and Romanian.  

A few years ago, a man who lived in the same city as me told me about a secure job opportunity in England, in a coffee shop. However, a day after I arrived in the UK I was informed that this role was no longer available. I found myself in a very desperate situation. I was worried and feeling hopeless because the reason I moved here was to find work. I didn’t know what to do any more. Shortly after, someone recommended The Big Issue. I was distressed, I knew that I had to do something because I was in a
foreign country. I was staying with some friends, I had to pay rent, but at the same time I was also thinking about my boy. I came here on my own and my mother cared for my child when I moved here. 

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I knew I had to act quick. As soon as I found out about The Big Issue, I decided to sign up and I went to the office in Bath. All this happened about four years ago. When I started selling the magazine, I realised soon that people in Bath are caring and kind. For a short amount of time, I sold at The Body Shop on the High Street, but Waterstones is my favourite pitch. I’ve sold here since the beginning. Before my son joined me in the UK, I was on my pitch pretty much every day. Now I sell during his school hours because on weekends I like to spend time with my boy.  

The Big Issue supported me very much. I feel very happy when I sell The Big Issue, because I can earn an income on a daily basis. For instance, if I sell between five and 10 magazines in a day on the card reader, I know that money will go towards groceries. Some of the money I use to buy treats for my son. I like to spoil him at times. I can be left without a penny in my pocket, I will always prioritise my child’s needs. 

I feel safe and protected by the Big Issue team. I am extremely grateful for their support with my son’s ‘right to reside’ application when he joined me in the UK. I was so relieved when he was granted the right to stay here, as I am only thinking about his future and education and I know it will be better for him to live here with me. Everything that The Big Issue does is charitable and the money we spend on buying magazines is reinvested back into us.  

I also worked at KFC before and after the pandemic. I worked at every station they needed me, sometimes I’d do the prep in the kitchen, sometimes I’d be on the cleaning shift, and at times I’d get the food orders ready for the customers. Working at KFC was very tough, and I actually make more money selling The Big Issue. The Big Issue also comes with all the additional support.  

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I love selling on Milsom Street as it’s a quiet street and I feel safer there. Sometimes the bookshop can see a lot of footfall. People in Bath are used to seeing me there and I have customers come especially to buy a magazine just from me. The staff at Waterstones are generous and they allow me to stay right at the entrance – where it’s covered – when it rains or when there is strong wind. Selling The Big Issue is difficult at times. Sometimes I stand there for two or three hours and don’t sell a single magazine and sometimes I sell a lot of them in just one hour. My message to my clients is: Thank you for buying the magazine from me, I am so grateful and I wish you a lot of happiness and good health. 

Interview: Paula Gombos 

Waterstones, Milsom Street, Bath, UK