From Selling The Big Issue To Running A Multi-Million Pound Business

A former Big Issue seller who now runs a multi-million-pound fashion firm says his time selling the magazine helped propel him to success, reports the Mirror.

Philip Waltham sold the magazine for three years in London after running away from his Hull home as a teen to escape his drug addiction. The 44-year-old, whose firm Bulk Vintage Wholesale now turns over £9 million a year, said: “The Big Issue helped me put money in my back pocket and feed myself. They taught me how to respect myself. They taught me how to budget my money and how important a roof was.”

He added: “I had to have money to buy Big Issues so I could sell Big Issues and that taught me how to budget. The thing that has saved my life is selling second-hand clothes and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for The Big Issue.”

After two years as a Big Issue vendor, Philip opened a market stall in Camden, London, and now oversees two high street stores in Newcastle and York. The Vintage Store is set to open two more branches, in Liverpool and Manchester. Philip added: “We fight fast fashion. We save clothing from landfills, we go to big factories and take clothing. Last year we saved around 600 tonnes of clothing and then repurposed them to sell on.”

Big Issue founder Lord John Bird said: “Our vendors sell The Big Issue to earn a legitimate income which not only provides them with money to get back on their feet but also helps them develop the key life and business skills they need to thrive.”

Lord Birt added: “They are then supported by our frontline teams, who are always on hand to help, with anything from accessing key services such as healthcare to simply being there to give advice when needed. Philip’s story is brilliantly inspiring and a great example of the transformative effect the Big Issue can have on people’s lives.”

The magazine is sold by the homeless, long-term unemployed and those who need money to avoid getting into debt, Big Issue says. Vendors are given five free magazines which are then sold to the public for £3, with fresh copies bought for £1.50.

Homeless Nurse Has To Sleep In Her Car

A nurse is sleeping in her car after becoming homeless two days before Christmas, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Nikki Campbell, 42, spent Christmas Day “crying” and walking her two dogs before sleeping in a car she borrowed from her nephew, on New Brighton Promenade. The hard-working theatre recovery nurse was forced to wash and brush her teeth in supermarket toilets and has spent almost a fortnight in a state of high anxiety.

Nikki, who works at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, had been staying at her sister’s address in Wallasey since July 2020, but their relationship broke down and she was forced to leave with her pug, Junior, and Shih Tzu, Daisy. Prior to that she had been renting a house in Wavertree, but had to leave when her landlord wanted to sell up.

Nikki told the Echo: “On December 24th I called Wirral housing options and they said I was from Liverpool so it was Liverpool Council that needs to deal with it. On December 28 I went to the Whitechapel Centre and they helped me fill in the paperwork. But Liverpool [Council] said I was not a priority and it should be Wirral Council. The whole thing has been a battle.”

“I just need a little bit of help. I know there’s people worse off than me but it has been probably the hardest time of my life. It’s more about the dogs than anything. I just feel so bad for them, I think if I didn’t have anything else to worry about apart from myself it wouldn’t be quite as bad.”

A spokesman for Wirral Council told the ECHO when contacted on December 24, its Housing Options team had directed Nikki to the Outreach Team to “assist further with accommodation” but that the offer was “not taken up”. However Nikki is adamant she was told Wirral Council could not help her and in fact closed her case. With nowhere to go on Christmas Eve, Nikki again slept in the car by New Brighton Promenade, where she awoke on Christmas morning.

She said: “I didn’t really sleep, it’s just stressful. You can’t relax. Junior is 18 months old and he barks at the slightest sound so you just don’t settle. It hasn’t been too cold, and I feel like I have been complaining too much because at least I have a car to sleep in. But it’s quite scary because you just don’t know who is coming up, especially with Junior barking at everything so you’re always on edge.”

Describing Christmas Day, she said: “I just cried. It was the most miserable day to be honest. I tried to busy myself, I took the dogs on a marathon walk and tried to keep my mind on something else but it was hard to do that. You just don’t want to bother anyone and I didn’t tell my friends until that night.

On December 29, with her mental health suffering, Nikki called a crisis line who alerted Merseyside Police.  She said: “The police were fantastic really, they came and got me and took me to the station and phoned the outreach teams for me, they said ‘you need to help this lady’. “I found out then that Wirral Council had closed my case.”

Nikki claims she spoke with officials from both councils, but despite outreach workers from Liverpool coming to assess her, no offer of emergency housing has been made. There were two nights of respite when a charity secured a room in the Ibis Hotel on Dale Street, Liverpool City Centre, but as of yesterday Nikki was back on the streets with her dogs. Nikki, who says she had a traumatic childhood and has no immediate family to call on, is now facing an uncertain future and says she may have to give up her dogs so she can continue to work. She said: “I can’t go and work a 12 hour shift in the hospital and leave them in the car, I am going to try and get them fostered temporarily.”

‘Local connection’ rules surrounding homelessness state a rough sleeper must have lived in the area for six months before an offer of housing can be made. The local connection rule can be ignored in situations when Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is activated, but in Liverpool that requires the temperature to drop below 2°C. At the beginning of the Covid pandemic, councils were provided with funding by the government to house all rough sleepers identified in their patch regardless of local connection or immigration status. In Liverpool that scheme, known as Everyone In, ended and the council now requires proof of a local connection to place rough sleepers in emergency accommodation.

Wirral Council said in a statement: “Wirral Council Housing Options team was approached on December 24 regarding help with housing. Wirral Council will always offer support and advice for those people who are sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough. As such, this individual was provided with the Outreach Team contact who could assist her further with accommodation if she had nowhere else to go. It is understood this offer was not taken up. Subsequent contact has been made and further assistance offered, however, it is understood this person has chosen to seek accommodation outside of the borough, although the option remains for her to take up relevant support if needed in Wirral.”

Liverpool Council was contacted for comment and the Echo understands Nikki was assessed by the local authority between Christmas and New Year.

Young Girl Makes Blankets From Crisp Packets For The Homeless

A schoolgirl is making life-saving blankets for the homeless to stay warm – out of used crisp packets, reports the Mirror.

Alyssa Dean, 11, started collecting crisp bags to transform them into warm survival blankets for people who are homeless. The idea came after she was inspired to help homeless people to stay safe during the winter.  Alyssa has to collect 44 packets in order to make just one blanket – and then creates a parcel with hats, gloves, socks and chocolate.

Her mum Darlene, 51, helps with the project by collecting empty crisp bags at work before helping to iron them together. Darlene, of Prestatyn, North Wales, said: “Alyssa is very eco conscious and this kind of project suits her perfectly. I collect crisp packet from work as I put a collection box there. It takes about 44 packets to make one blanket so we’ve gone through lots of crisps to make these care packages.”

Darlene added: “Each blanket takes about 45 minutes to make with the ironing and weather proofing. We wanted to give homeless people a bit more than just a blanket so we included other bits and pieces to help keep them warm. At first, she was using her own pocket money to fund this but we’ve had a fundraiser and raffle since to help us stock the parcels.”

Alyssa was inspired after being awarded Miss North Wales Pre-Teen and has now made over 80 care parcels for the homeless. They will be handed out across Denbighshire as well as Conwy and Flintshire.

Fears For Rough Sleepers As Funding Ends

Homelessness campaigners say they fear there could be “deaths on the streets” after emergency funding used to put homeless people up in hotels and other temporary shelters ended, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Liverpool council still provides emergency shelter for anyone with a “local connection” to the area, defined in the law as someone who has lived there for six out of the previous 12 months. One man, sleeping in a tent in the Garston area, is understood to have been unable to access help with accommodation as he is originally from Manchester – leaving him on the streets. The man is understood to have faced threats in his home city and was reluctant to return.

Those working in the sector managed to find him a single night in a hostel, but the man was told the council’s “hands were tied” due to the lack of a local connection as defined under Chapter 10 of the Government’s homelessness code of guidance for local authorities. Liverpool Council says it is only able to waive the local connection rule if the temperature drops below 2°C – in which case it will provide shelter under the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP). Before the pandemic the council was able to get around the local connection rule using overnight shelter Labre House, as it was classed as a “limited hours shelter” rather than accommodation. However, the shelter was forced to close in March 2020 after it was deemed unsafe due to Covid, and it is not set to re-open.

After the pandemic swept across the UK in March 2020, the government launched its ‘Everyone In’ scheme, providing councils with the cash to house every rough sleeper on their patch. Councils block booked hotels, secured en-suite apartments, took over student halls and found rooms in bed and breakfasts for anyone sleeping rough, regardless of local connection or immigration status. Despite continuing the policy longer than national rules demanded, Liverpool Council returned to normal policy in August.

John Finnegan, chief executive of charity Liverpool Homeless FC and formerly Mayoral Lead for Rough Sleeping, told the ECHO he had noticed a significant rise in calls from people unable to access help to get a roof over their heads. He said: “It was overnight basically when the hotels closed and asked people to leave. If you close the hotels and they could not find temporary accommodation, then they are going on to the streets. With Covid homelessness has risen and my fear is we will see more deaths on the streets if people have nowhere to go. I have been getting around one call a week from people who are not able to access shelter. Quite often I can call up and help them find a bed but not everyone has a John Finnegan in their corner.”

Michelle Langan, founder of homelessness charity the Papercup Project, also described fearing for the lives of homeless people in Liverpool. She referred to 30-year-old Aimee Tease, whose body was found inside a tent near Eldon Grove, Vauxhall, on January 8, 2019 prompting outpourings of shock and anger. Ms Langan said: “As we head into winter we want to know that everyone is eligible to get help. Over the past couple of months we have come across people in the city who are sleeping rough and who don’t have a connection to Liverpool, which makes it difficult for them to access accommodation.”

“After the death a few years ago of Aimee Teese, who was found inside a tent, I don’t want to hear about any more deaths of rough sleepers that could have been prevented. Liverpool has previously offered ‘help to all’ going beyond the statutory provision expected by the government and we hope that continues as we head into winter.” Ms Langan said the problem could be more severe than is known, with “hidden homeless” reluctant to come forward due to fears over their immigration status or mental health issues.

Liverpool Council was keen to stress it is legally unable to provide accommodation for people without a local connection, but said it would help to direct any rough sleepers to where they can find help. Under national SWEP legislation, all council’s must provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers when temperatures hit zero, but Liverpool Council said it activates SWEP at 2°C. A spokesman said: “Under the Everyone In approach, the council has accommodated more than 2,000 people since the pandemic began.”

“Instead of a limited hours shelter, we now provide dedicated accommodation with 24 hour support. Liverpool’s SWEP policy does not follow national guidance (three nights at zero or below) but the council doesn’t wait for SWEP to be activated to offer support to people who are rough sleeping. Our outreach team is out 21 hours a day/seven days week doing that. In Liverpool we offer everyone support to come off the streets. During SWEP we will offer accommodation to anyone who does not have a solution that they can already return to.”

The council said it could not comment on the case of the homeless man in Garston.

Funding Boost To Protect People Living On The Streets From Covid

Rough sleepers will be offered a roof over their head until March and encouraged to get a vaccine in a bid to protect them from the Omicron variant, reports the Metro.

With Covid-19 cases reaching record highs in the last week, councils will be given a £28million boost to protect people living on the streets during the winter. The extra money, part of the government’s Protect and Vaccinate scheme, will see mobile clinics set up on the streets and outreach work in shelters to encourage people to get vaccinated. For weeks, organisations have been urging the government to give councils clear guidelines to ensure everyone at risk of sleeping rough is offered emergency accommodation, and the funding to provide it.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive at Crisis, said the money is ‘incredibly welcomed’ but pointed out that it must be based on need, rather than if a person was born in the UK or not. Based on the latest guidance, all non-UK nationals should be able to qualify for accommodation, and councils would struggle to find grounds to turn them away. The charity boss explained: “Through our frontline services we know that vaccination rates amongst people experiencing homelessness are particularly low. This could prove fatal for many when also coupled with other health issues and the physical impact of spending night and day on the streets in the freezing cold. As this additional support becomes available, it must be based on need, rather than if someone was born in the UK or not.”

‘We would also need to see the default assistance provided to be self-contained accommodation rather than communal shelters wherever possible, alongside the offer of a vaccine. We know that this is already happening in many areas of the country but not all. This becoming the standard offer of support will ensure that lives are best-protected and that people are really able to benefit as a result.”

Last year, an estimated 688 rough sleepers died in England and Wales, with the worst affected city being London, with 143 deaths. By January 2021, 37,000 people were put in emergency accommodation or hotels under the Covid-19 ‘Everyone In’ scheme. But tens of thousands were soon back on the streets when hotels opened back up for business later in the year. While the UK has one of the highest vaccine uptakes in the world, according to government data, millions are yet to have their full course. It is also still unclear how many people living on the streets have not received even one jab.

Eddie Hughes, the minister for rough sleeping, highlighted that the homeless community is particularly vulnerable to the virus due to the low vaccination rates. The MP said: “From what we know about the low vaccination rates amongst the rough sleeping population, Omicron presents a severe risk to the individuals you do so much to protect. Therefore, I am asking now for a range of action to make sure that we put in place the right support and help us to vaccinate this vulnerable group with urgency. As we have seen through the course of the pandemic, one of the most immediate ways to prevent transmission of Covid-19 amongst those sleeping rough is to provide self-contained accommodation.”

Kindness On The Streets Of Glasgow

A mum who started a homeless charity with just £5 has managed to feed 55,000 people in a year, reports the Mirror.

Laura McSorley’s Kindness Homeless Street Team was created before the coronavirus pandemic and since then it has helped thousands of vulnerable people. Laura said about 70 per cent of those who get help from the charity are in temporary accommodation and cannot afford to pay for food. She told the Daily Record: “Right now, we have lots of children coming with their families and we’re seeing parents who are choosing whether to heat their house or feed their kids. They know with our help, they can at least keep their children fed.”

She added: “For a time we had a period where it was quietening down but from the end of October onwards our numbers have fluctuated again to the highest of what we give out at any time. They know with our help, they can at least keep their children fed. For a time we had a period where it was quietening down but from the end of October onwards our numbers have fluctuated again to the highest of what we give out at any time.”

Laura’s team consists of dozens of volunteers who run a soup kitchen in George Square in Glasgow. During the past year they delivered 8,000 food parcels and furnished almost 400 homes for people who have been offered permanent accommodation. The charity also delivered Christmas dinners, toys and gifts to families who cannot afford them.

Laura said: “We have guys who have been in the homeless cycle being offered a tenancy but don’t have anything. We’ve turned up at properties with sheets of paper on floorboards. Our delivery guys work 10 hours a day picking up second-hand furniture and we’ve just bought a third vehicle because the demand is outrageous.”

Laura, who works as a pensions manager as well as dedicating 50 hours a week to her charity, was honoured by the Prime Minister last year after launching her charity to provide food and essential items to vulnerable people. She said: “Everything we give is purely thanks to the people who support what we do. We’re just trying to keep that wheel turning and keeping these guys from going backwards. I still want to do more and try to look at setting up rehabilitation cafes and drop-in centres but for now we will keep doing everything we can for those who need us.”

Open House at Hugh Baird College

Petrified Woman Helped By Homeless Man

A “petrified” woman was saved from an abusive drunk by the quick thinking of a homeless man, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Jess Shaw was waiting for a taxi outside Tesco in Old Swan when she was approached by an abusive drunk man who grabbed hold of her. But a nearby homeless man stepped in to help her by pretending to know the 24-year-old.

Jess, from Huyton, was waiting to get a taxi when she was approached by a drunk man who at first was trying to get her attention. But he quickly became aggressive and started grabbing hold of her jacket and pulling her towards him.

She told the Echo: “This guy was very drunk and at first he was just trying to get my attention so I was just smiling at him. He then started trying to put his arm around me and trying to pull me towards him to which I was trying to politely decline. He then grabbed hold of me and started pulling me with him. He was trying to talk, but it was all slurred. He said I should go back to his and wouldn’t leave it when I said no. All I could think was I just wanted to get home to my boyfriend and my little boy.”

Jess said she was “petrified” by what was happening before a homeless man who had witnessed the incident stepped in to help. She added: “A homeless man was sat outside Tesco came over to me and pretended he knew me. He was trying to make a bit of small talk so I directed my attention towards him in the hope the drunk man would leave. I honestly can’t thank him enough. I’m just really sad I didn’t catch his name. I know a few people in the area are trying to find out if he’s a regular outside Tesco so I can track him down.”

Jess said she managed to get in a taxi and leave but when she got home she was “in shock.” She said: “I was very much in shock on the way home, but when I got back I just went to pieces. I was sobbing, I was quivering it was so bad, my boyfriend was trying to hug me but I just didn’t want to be touched.”

Jess said the homeless man’s actions reassured her there are plenty of people who are willing to help a woman in trouble. She said: “It’s really reassuring that there are men who are willing to help and actively change things. The homeless man already had so little and he put everything on the line to help. If I could do anything to help him, I would.”

Help For Homeless In Liverpool City Centre

A dad’s faith in humanity was restored when a man appeared outside Primark, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Karl Egington, 50, was stood under the shop’s cover as rain fell when the stranger approached a group huddled on Church Street in Liverpool city centre. The man thrust £70 into their hands, pausing for a group photo before making off, telling the group to “keep it up”. Karl said: “It’s not like that every night, but when it is, that’s amazing.” The dad of two added: “It restores your faith in humanity, because, I know he was drunk, but he was walking past. He didn’t have to stop. He was probably showing off with his girl there with all the money, but that doesn’t matter. It just proves that there are nice people.”

Stood next to him in a hi-vis vest, Anneka Oates said: “Our freezers are empty, so now we’ve got that, I know we’ve got meals for next week.” The mum of four added: “We’ve got a hundred people fed. They’ve got a hot drink, they’ve got a dessert and they’ve got a meal for next week now.”

Karl is a team leader with Liverpool In Arms At Night, a group founded by Anneka just over a year ago. The group feeds the homeless in Liverpool city centre two nights a week, setting up around 7.30pm outside Primark on Church Street on Mondays and Fridays. On Monday, December 13, the group served sandwiches, fruit, fish pie and chicken curry, made by volunteers. Karl and another volunteer often venture out into wind and rain to take bags of food to people living on the street.

He told the Echo: “A lot of people know we’re here now, so they’ll come down. But you’ll get people who are too shy or too vulnerable, and they’ll stay where they are. We know that there are a few girls who will stay in the doorways. They won’t come out. There are other people who won’t come down. They don’t come out of the doorway because they’ll lose it. Somebody else will just go in and take it.”

Many of the people who get food from the Church Street stall are adults, some in their 50s or older. But some rough sleepers are children. Karl said: “We’ve been getting lads and girls, 15, 16. I’ve got a son who’s 16. I’ve got a daughter who’s 12. I can only think, ‘Why? Why is it allowed? Why are they on the streets?'”

Emergency funding was deployed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure that rough sleepers were placed in safe, secure accommodation.

Homelessness was ended for 934 households in Liverpool, and a further 100 were matched to new accommodation. But Liverpool city council closed its emergency night shelter, Labre House, during the pandemic, and funding for the emergency Everyone In scheme eventually ended. People working in the sector have seen a rise in people sleeping on the streets as we head into the winter months.

As we talked, a man walked up to Anneka with a black bin bag filled with a soggy sleeping bag and a pillow. Anneka said: “You can imagine the amount of sleeping bags we go through, especially in weather like this. Wet sleeping bags. Not always, but if I have a spare day, I’ll come into town just with sleeping bags in a trolley and I’ll go around to see who needs one.”

There are homeless hostels where people can stay dry, but they often cost money, and some people don’t feel safe staying in them. One man who is a regular at the table is an army veteran who’s been left with post-traumatic stress disorder from his time serving in Bosnia and the Gulf War. The 52-year-old told the Echo: “They’re a good team. They help you and they care. They look out for you. One of them gave me a sleeping bag the other week, so I was grateful. But I’ve been cold mate, I’ve been tired.”

He “can’t do hostel life” though. The man said: “It’ll kill me off lad. I’ve done hostels. Your benefits go to them, they take their service charge out and give you what’s left. Then you get people knocking on your door, asking you for money, ciggies, drugs. I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink alcohol or anything like that. You end up arguing with them.” On Monday night, he was being given shelter from the rain at his friend’s place. But often he’s on the streets, and the streets are hardly safe. A couple of weeks ago, he was head-butted in an attack on him and his friend.

Many of the volunteers have done sleep outs in city centre doorways to raise funds, and even to get donations of survival kits to hand out to homeless people. Jacqui, who was serving food with her daughter, said: “What we learned from it was how vulnerable you can be on the streets when you’re lying on the floor.” She added: “You’re lying there in your sleeping bag, and although you’ve got your team around you and you know that you’re safe, your mind is telling you that you’ve still got to be wary of who’s around you. Anything can happen. Your mind’s telling you, ‘Hold on a minute, you’re lying on the floor, you can hear footsteps, you can hear glass bottles being dropped, you can hear people shouting’. You just don’t realise how vulnerable you are.”

Not everyone who gets help from the team is a rough sleeper. Some stay in hostels or sofa-surf. Others have flats in temporary accommodation but have no money left after paying for rent and bills. But the volunteers don’t discriminate.

Karl told the Echo: “It’s a human person that shouldn’t be in that situation. Our government shouldn’t be allowing it. They shouldn’t be allowing it. And yet, you’ve seen it tonight. How many? And this is nothing. A hundred-odd. Sometimes we’ve had 120 people, and that was in the summer. Now it’s going to get worse, especially after Christmas because fewer and fewer people give.” For now, at least, they can look forward to Christmas Eve on Church Street, and the warm meals a nearby restaurant offered to make.

Hollywood Star Helps The Homeless

Michael Sheen is one of the most beloved actors in Britain. And it’s easy to see why in last week’s Letter To My Younger Self, where he tells The Big Issue‘s Jane Graham about why he made a decision to invest in causes that mean a lot to him.

When the Homeless World Cup was struggling for funding, Michael Sheen stepped in. “I realised I could do this kind of thing and, if I can keep earning money, it’s not going to ruin me,” he said. “The thing I enjoyed most in my late teens was youth theatre. By 16, I was starting to really take it seriously. I’d been obsessed with football when I was younger. Every waking hour I was playing or watching or reading about it. And when I was about 12, I had an opportunity to go to the next stage and play for the youth team [at Arsenal]. My life could have gone a very different way.”

He continued: “But I didn’t go down that path because my mum and dad didn’t want to move the family to London. So over the next few years, I started to transfer that passion into acting. By 16, I was starting to really come into my own and thinking, maybe this is something I’m actually going to do seriously, rather than just something I enjoy.

“I’ve realised in the last few years that I want to be one of those people who help other people the way so many people helped me. I don’t want to just be someone who enjoys the fruits of what other people have done and then pull the drawbridge up and go, well I’m alright Jack, I’ve had a nice time. I’m at the stage of my life and career where I have a window of opportunity that will probably never be this good again. I’m able to get people in a room, I can open doors. I don’t want to look back and think, I could have done something with that platform. I could have done something with that money.”

“Doing The Passion in 2011 was a turning point in my life. That project involved the entire town and it was a big awakening for me. I got to know people and organisations within my hometown that I didn’t know existed. Little groups who were trying to help young carers, who had just enough funding to make a tiny difference to a kid’s life by putting on one night a week where they could get out and go bowling or watch a film and just be a kid.”

“I would come back to visit three or four months later, and find out that funding had gone and that organisation didn’t exist any more. That stuff doesn’t make the news but it makes a massive difference to kids’ lives. I realised the difference between that child’s life being a little bit better or not was ultimately a small amount of funding. And I wanted to help those people. I didn’t just want to be a patron or a supportive voice, I wanted to actually do more than that. That’s when I thought, I need to go back and live in Wales again.”

“The other big thing that changed my thinking was the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff in 2019. I had committed to helping to organise that and then suddenly, with not long to go, there was no money. I had to make a decision – I could walk away from it, and it wouldn’t happen. And all those people from all around the world who were banking on coming to have this extraordinary experience, maybe a life-changing experience, wouldn’t have it. I thought, I’m not going to let that happen.”

“So I put all my money into keeping it going. I had a house in America and a house here and I put those up and just did whatever it took. It was scary and incredibly stressful. And I’ll be paying for it for a long time. But when I came out the other side I realised I could do this kind of thing and, if I can keep earning money it’s not going to ruin me. There was something quite liberating about going, alright, I’ll put large amounts of money into this or that, because I’ll be able to earn it back again. I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor.”

You can read the full interview here.