Megaphone is just one of 122 publications in 40 countries that comprise the International Network of Street Papers (INSP). We were deeply saddened to receive news that two vendors who sold the London, UK-based The Big Issue were senselessly murdered earlier this month. Wayne Lee Busst and Ian Watson-Gladwish were selling The Big Issue in a busy shopping street in Birmingham when they were both stabbed to death. Megaphone strongly condemns these tragic murders and we send our condolences to the families and friends of the victims. These recent murders remind us just how dangerous life on the streets can be.
In a statement, INSP executive director Lisa MacLean said: "Street papers are a stepping stone to a life away from homelessness. Our vendors have chosen to help themselves through dignified employment. They deserve to work without abuse, the risk of assault or even death, like everyone else."
Pictured above is Ian Watson-Gladwish, one of The Big Issue vendors killed on his pitch in Birmingham. This is his story in his own words:
"I love it when it’s sunny. I say to my customers, 'The sun is out, the sky is blue, come and get your Big Issue.' People seem to like that. You’ve got to be polite and have manners. My mum brought me up with manners.
"I sold the Issue for a while until she died. I was all over the place. I’m a people person and I just couldn’t do it for a while. I couldn’t concentrate.
"I’ve been back on my pitch now for five months. I’ve had drug problems in the past. Getting back on my feet has been hard. Sometimes, I’m walking down the road and I think, 'I’ve got this money in my pocket. I could just score.' But I don’t. I’ve got to be strong and get through this the best I can.
"I’ve got two children. My daughter is 11 and I’ve never met my son. He could walk past me on the street and wouldn’t know I was his dad. I feel sad about that. I want to see them again, but not as a homeless person. I’m down and out and I don’t want them to see me as that. I want them to be proud of me.
"I want to have a job and have my life back on track. I’ve been married since, but we split up. We’re trying to get back together now but we’re just taking each day as it comes. Every day I feel I’m getting stronger and stronger.
"I love walking. I walk three miles to my pitch every morning and three miles back. I rarely take the bus. It clears my head. I walk in rain, snow or sunshine. I’ve signed up to do the Big Brum Night Walk in aid of The Big Issue. I’m really looking forward to it. I want to raise awareness of the work they do with the homeless. There’s people worse off than me and I want to help them too.
"I love my pitch and I love my job and The Big Issue has helped me just at a time when I’ve needed it."
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