21 March 2011
Last updated at 13:38
This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Big Issue Foundation. Bournemouth photographer Paul Wenham-Clarke has compiled a series of portraits of the magazine's vendors, called Hard Times. Bryan Rowe (pictured) served as a gunner in the Royal Navy. He said: "I have served my country and yet some people still say 'get a job' or 'tramp'." Mr Wenham-Clarke won a highly-coveted Gold Award from the Association of Photographers for this series of six images from the Hard Times project. The full exhibition consists of 20 photographs.
Sean and Charlotte have been living in their car for several weeks. They travelled to Bournemouth from the north of England assuming the winter would be milder there, according to Mr Wenham-Clarke. He said: "They told me that they were entitled to stay in a hostel for a number of days free of charge, but that they planned to wait until the weather turned particularly bad before using up their allowance. But they didn’t like the hostels, saying that they tended to be violent, frightening places."
The exhibition has been dedicated to the memory of Peter Welch, a Big Issue Foundation trustee. "Peter, who sadly and suddenly passed away recently, was instrumental in bringing this project to life," said Stephen Robertson, group chief executive for The Big Issue. One vendor (pictured), who did not want to use his real name, said he first slept rough when he left the Armed Forces. "They don't prepare you for civilian life," he said.
Kevin lives in a caravan on a farm. "His home measured approximately six feet by 10. Kevin is quite a tall guy and he could not lay out straight when sleeping on his bed," said Mr Wenham-Clarke. Kevin was a kitchen salesman, but was made redundant at the start of the current recession. Of his current role as a Big Issue vendor, Kevin said: "I'm my own boss now and organise my time, I don't have someone on my back all the time."
John Edwards lives in a squat on his own. "He was once married and has pictures of his children on his windowsill," said Mr Wenham-Clarke. Mr Edwards said: "I've been selling The Big Issue for nine years now. At first it was just me and my dog, as no hostel would take us. I was told if I got rid of my dog I would be housed. But Violet, my dog, is my baby and I love her. I sell The Big Issue to cover vet bills, food and my habit, which is alcohol."
Kim (pictured) and Nigel were living in a rented flat when Mr Wenham-Clarke met them. Prior to that they had spent several weeks squatting in a derelict hotel in Bournemouth. They saved the deposit for the rented flat by selling The Big Issue. Kim is now working as a chambermaid in a local hotel and is studying accountancy one night a week. The Hard Times exhibition is on at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London. This was the site of the magazine's launch in September 1991.