Big Issue vendors write to their 25-year-old selves: “Don’t be too hard on yourself, it will help you understand people and their mistakes”

INSP has been asking vendors from across the street paper network to write letters to their 25-year-old self to mark the end of INSP’s 25th anniversary year. Below, four Big Issue vendors from the UK make their contributions. Readers of The Big Issue will be familiar with the format – the ‘Letter to My Younger Self’ series is a weekly mainstay of the magazine, with many of the best ones now compiled into a book.

Ann Warke

You are going to make mistakes! Like everyone does, don’t be too hard on yourself, it will help you understand people and their mistakes. And please don’t allow friends, family and society to make you feel small because you didn’t live your life the way they expected! Live your life your way, like you’re going to do, and try hard not to worry too much. You will be liked and loved.

Big Issue vendor Ann Warke

Donna Barlow

Do some more education, try and fit it in. I was a mum at 15 and I’d tell young Donna that it’ll be OK. But I think I knew that anyway because I lived with my mum until I was 17. Life hasn’t thrown me the best things but it’s not been the worst either. I’m still standing.

Big Issue vendor Donna Barlow

Lee Cooke

Stick in at school and get a good job. It’s a hard life, it’s not easy, but you’re going to be OK.

Big Issue vendor Lee Cooke who sells the magazine outside of the Theatre Royal in Newcastle upon Tyne

Richard Broadway

Always be able to admit to oneself when one has a problem. I think that advice would have helped in my life – but only to an extent. There just weren’t as many child laws as there are nowadays. Kids in care didn’t have a voice.

Big Issue vendor Richard Broadway

Check back in every day over the festive period for more #VendorLetters.

INSP members can download the #VendorLetters feature on the INSP News Service.