Top Ten Your Say Heartwarmers

3 March 2016

Top Ten Your Say Heartwarmers

There is a fellow named Jay who can be found at Lang Park on the corner of York and Jamison Streets in Sydney’s CBD. Amid the hustle and bustle, there is Jay, sending out positive vibes! Jay is a radiant Big Issue vendor who has the most inspiring, beautiful photos with quotes lining his little area. When our bus crosses the Harbour Bridge and I catch a glimpse of the park, my heart sings when I see Jay. If he is not there, the day and scene is quite dull. I’m sure Jay has no idea what a positive impact he is making on our community, and I would like to recognise him as being a shining light. Thank you, Jay. You inspire me always!
Kathryn Jaoudat, Castlecrag, NSW

My wife Kate and I have a ‘Big Issue Pact’. When travelling to Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne we will buy a copy from the first vendor we meet. Kate was recently in Melbourne with our 17-year-old daughter, Sophie, to settle her in on her first adventure away from home. As per custom, Kate bought a copy from a vendor, explaining to Sophie the philosophy underlying The Big Issue and why it is important to support both the magazine and the people who sell it. The following evening I called Sophie to see how she was settling in. Bursting with excitement she said, “Dad, you know that Big Issue thing you and Mum do? Well, I saw a lady with her dog selling The Big Issue and so I bought a copy and we had a chat and she was so happy!” The following evening I called again and received an equally breathless update to the story. “Dad, you remember The Big Issue lady I saw yesterday, well she was there again today! I didn’t want to buy another copy ’cos she knew I already had one, so I popped into the supermarket and bought a tin of food for her puppy and some banana bread and water for her!” Her kindness and compassion brought a lump to my throat. We’ve always tried to instil a sense of gratitude in our children and an understanding that a warm bed, food on the table and a loving environment is not something everybody enjoys. It’s often a tough concept for teenagers to grasp! Thanks to The Big Issue, I have been given a sense that some of these conversations may have struck a chord!
Malcolm Angell, Toowoomba, Qld

I decided to have a treat at the end of a bicycle ride – coffee and cake at Brunetti, the wonderful coffee shop in Carlton, Melbourne. When I arrived, I suddenly realised that I didn’t have a bike lock, and wondered what I could do. The man selling The Big Issue outside saw my dilemma and offered to look after the bicycle. So I bought him a coffee and cake (“Not too hard, I haven’t got any teeth. See!” – and he opened his mouth). He enjoyed the coffee, but broke the cake in half and took one half to another Big Issue seller across the road. I was moved that he shared what little he had.
Coralie, via email
Sounds like you’re talking about Craig. He’s famous for his Big Issue spruiks as well as his generosity. – Ed

A note from Big Issue’s editorial staff:
The response to the ‘Vendor Profile’ on Rob from Perth (Ed#454) has been incredible. In Rob’s interview, he mentioned that he’d love to travel to Bali one day. Since then, we’ve had a lot of people contacting The Big Issue – and Rob, directly – to offer their assistance in making the holiday happen. His supporters have come from all walks of life, including people from local businesses, government departments, multinationals and individuals. Two of Rob’s regular customers, Don and Gerald, facilitated a group fundraising effort to purchase plane tickets and accommodation. This generous gift was presented to Rob on 2 May at a reception at Abacus Rent-it in Victoria Park, Perth. Rob travelled to Bali in December 2014.

A Big Issue vendor came through the train carriage as I was heading home from the city today. Noticing me checking in my wallet for change, he came over. We had a great chat about the fabulous breakfast he had just enjoyed at The Big Issue office to celebrate the new edition. I didn’t have any change, so he offered to jump off and get change at Flinders Street Station. Leaving his very nice Crumpler bag with me, he went flying off to the kiosk just outside our carriage. I tried to stop him but he was very dedicated. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite fast enough. Despite my efforts to stop the doors closing, he was left stranded on the station with my change and I was left holding all his things. “I’ll meet you at Richmond!” he shouted as the train pulled out. Arriving at Richmond a few minutes after me, he came running over with abundant apologies and a fistful of correct change. Big Issue vendors really do go the extra mile!
Andrea Travers, Belgrave Heights, Vic

I recently bought The Big Issue outside Flinders Street Station [in Melbourne] from a lady with severe motor-skill impairment. She couldn’t really speak or open her bag so (with permission) I put my money in there for her. A different gentleman saw me giving her money and, quite persistently, kept asking me for change. I can’t judge this man, because I don’t know him, but all I can say is a massive bravo to this lovely vendor! Despite a physical disability she was still out there, actively trying to improve her livelihood. I like your work ethic, girl! Good stuff.
Mandy Barbour, Brunswick, Vic
We believe you’re referring to Kyra. There is, indeed, much to admire about her. – Ed

The other morning I stopped to purchase the latest copy of The Big Issue to read as I sat in the local cafe for my daily intake of caffeine. The vendor, a large and ‘fearsome’ man with a big bushy beard, near Subiaco station, apologised for not having change for the $20 note that I proffered, insisting that I take the magazine anyway and pay on my return. As a result of this thoughtful gesture I did not have to resort to the local tabloid press while sipping my coffee, which would definitely have ruined my day. On my return, I was greeted with a large grin and a: “Hope the coffee was good?” I went on my way, relieved that the world still has such trusting souls.
Charles Lancaster, Wembley, WA
Sounds like you’re talking about Stewart W! – Ed

Craig is a regular vendor at Lygon Court in Carlton, Melbourne. I imagine that, like most vendors, he is not wealthy. Recently I bought a copy of The Big Issue from him. Soon after, I saw him drop $5 into a donation box for the charity Swags for the Homeless, saying that a couple of customers had given him extra money that day. I was touched by his generosity.
Tony, Kensington, Vic

I first met [Melbourne Big Issue vendor] Denis in St Kilda when I was 19 and working at a bakery to get through uni. Since then there have been other degrees, other part-time jobs, and one of the links over the years has been buying The Big Issue from Denis, either in the CBD or in St Kilda. Having just returned from three years interstate for work, surviving the first day in a new job, who do I see on my way to the train this arvo? Denis – at the corner of Bourke and Spencer streets, selling The Big Issue! I'm turning 30 this year and could not ask for a better homecoming. Seeing Denis today truly lifted my spirits (and of course I bought the current edition!).
Jess, Daylesford, Vic
Denis remembers you well, Jess, and says he really enjoyed catching up with you again, too. – Ed

I was cycling past Redfern Station in Sydney recently when I stopped to buy the latest Big Issue from a woman sitting on a milk crate. “Is it still $6?” I asked, unzipping my pocket. “Yeah, sister, $6,” she replied. “Okay.” I handed her a $10 note. She looked back at me, slightly incredulously. Then she said: “I don’t have any change.” I considered my options. Maybe I should take back the $10 note and say I’ll get it later. Or find another vendor. Or… Anyway, I cycled off with my copy. Later, I discussed the scene with friends over lunch. We wondered whether it was a scam or just an awkward exchange between a white professional on an expensive bike and an Indigenous local woman. Hours later, cycling home, I spotted her still there. “Oh!” she said, “I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting.” And immediately handed me the $4. I handed it straight back.
Gillian, Bronte, NSW