Change is in your pocket

The Big Issue is a socially responsible non-profit organisation that enables willing unemployed and marginalised adults to take responsibility for their own lives through a developmental employment programme.
PITCH:  Old Paarl Road, Tygervalley Centre
AGE:  38


Describe yourself in one word…

Why did you pick that word?
I make do with what I have, and I make the best of my situation.

What’s the best part of fatherhood?
Knowing that those kids came from me; they’re a part of me. It’s amazing to know that I had a hand in their existence.

Elliot Bloom

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Elliot Bloom is no stranger to hard work. He joined The Big Issue in 2005, but has always been on the lookout for new opportunities. After working as a vendor for three years, he found a job at a catering company and worked there for four years. When the owners decided to move to Johannesburg, however, Elliot wasn’t able to make the move so he decided to stay in Cape Town and, ultimately, return to The Big Issue. And he’s been impressing us with his work ethic ever since. We got to know our latest Vendor of the Month a little better…

I am originally from the Eastern Cape. I moved to Cape Town in 1993 to finish my schooling, but my mother had many children and needed my help to put them through school. In my culture, when you reach a certain age, you are expected to help the family out financially.

Before joining The Big Issue, I worked in paving and then construction. Both jobs were only contract positions, so when the contract expired I helped a man move imported goods into his store in Greenmarket Square. That’s when I saw a Big Issue vendor and decided to ask him about it. I joined in 2005 and, after selling the magazine for three years, The Big Issue helped me find a job at a catering company. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed it.

The owners decided to move the catering company to Jozi because they were receiving more work there, but I couldn’t go. I have a family – a wife and two children – and I couldn’t uproot my children. My wife is a domestic worker and she loves her job. I had to give up the opportunity for my family; it’s all part of being a parent and husband. After losing my job, I worked a few other odd jobs and did a course in life skills. I worked at a school as a cleaner for a year, but that was also a contract position, which ended. That’s why I’m back at The Big Issue.

I am not someone to sit at home and do nothing. I am a man, and a man must work for his family. The Big Issue helps me do something with my time. If the magazine didn’t exist I don’t know where I would be right now. It gives me a sense of pride to be able to provide for my family. I believe in working hard.

I enjoy selling the magazine. My pitch is so great. It’s at the mall, so I see loads of people all day long. The people are friendly and treat me well. I owe a lot of that to The Big Issue; just the name alone carries a lot of weight.

The only challenge I have is to make a sale in time before the robot changes. When I first started selling the magazine, I sold in Greenmarket Square. There were no robots, so I had time to really connect with my customer. Now I have to make a connection in less than two minutes. It’s been a challenge, but I have relied on the customers’ knowledge of The Big Issue… and my dazzling smile, of course.

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