1. ITV Report

Well-known Bristol Big Issue seller given job at WHSmith

A well-known vendor of The Big Issue has been given a job at WHSmith after impressing the manager with his customer service skills.

Mike Hall, 30, has become a common figure among commuters at Bristol Temple Meads, and has sold the magazine since 2018 as part of a partnership between Network Rail and The Big Issue.

But after impressing the manager of the station's WHSmith, Mike has now begun a job in the store.

Mike has been selling at Bristol Temple Meads since 2018. Credit: Bristol Live

Mike got the job after he approached WHSmith manager Amberlea Knowles just before Christmas to ask if there were any vacancies.

And, having seen him at work Amberlea offered Mike the job just one day after applying.

I filled in the application form and got the job the next day. Because she had seen me selling The Big Issue and my customer relations I think she might have fast-tracked me.

– Mike Hall

Mike began working for The Big Issue shortly after becoming homeless in 2018.

Although he did not initially know anything about it, he quickly succeeded, becoming one of the first sellers to accept card payments as part of magazine's iZettle trial in 2018.

He also sold The Big Issue at the Downs Festival and a vegan food festival, VegFest, in Cardiff.

When I first heard about The Big Issue, I was sat down begging at the time. But once I started selling, I’ve never looked back since.

Rather than sitting down looking up at people and feeling sorry for myself, I was still stood there trying to offer a service having face-to-face conversations rather than people looking down at me.

– Mike Hall
The vendor has sold the magazine at the Downs Festival and in Cardiff. Credit: Bristol Live

Mike's work selling The Big Issue had also impressed Bristol Temple Meads station manager, Andy Philips.

He noticed that Mike was increasingly "confident", "polite and approachable", and gave passengers "directional advice". Mike had even dressed in a Santa outfit to bring Christmas cheer to the station.

In a review, he said he was beginning to feel more comfortable to take the next step, he felt ready to move into employment. We let the station teams know and a job arose within WHSmith.

Mike was taken on at the end of last year and we are delighted to see him getting on so well in his new role. We now have our new vendor taking up the pitch at Bristol Temple Meads as we continue to support the Big Issue.

– Andy Philips, Bristol Temple Meads manager

Mike is now getting on with his new job at WHSmith. Meanwhile, The Big Issue, founded in 1991 to offer hope to the homeless, continues to be sold at the station.