SPREADING some cheer is the name of the game for a Leamington Big Issue seller.
Will Crowder has been a regular face on the Parade for five years and always has a cheery greeting for those who pass him.
Finding he had a penchant for sales work from a young age, the 40 year-old has worked for charities, in telesales since completing his A Levels, and even owned his own business.
But the recession coupled with a business partner who disappeared before things turned sour saw the Leamington resident lose the telesales business he had worked hard to create.
Circumstances led to Will finding himself homeless, but having always worked he was not going to give up.
He turned his hand to casual labour to try and make ends meet but struggled to get back into sales work despite 15 years experience under his belt.
In 2010 he turned to the Big Issue, which has given him the chance to be his own boss, and the company even helped him apply for council housing.
Last year the Big Issue put more than £5million in the pockets of their vendors, providing an alternative to begging, who buy copies of the magazine for £1.25 and sell them for £2.50.
Will no longer claims any benefits, saying he does not want to rely on the state to support him when there are others who truly need the help.
The magazine is sold by homeless and long-term unemployed people and the company are keen emphasize their vendors are making an honest living – not begging.
Will has to be very self-motivated to go out in all weathers to sell, but says he likes the freedom of working on his own terms.
He told the Observer: “It is difficult to find a job that matched my skills and experience and would feel rewarded by. I didn’t want to go into something for the sake of it, that would pay what I was getting when I was 17 years-old.
“People do stop me on the street and ask what I’m doing selling the Big Issue. They say I should be doing something else – it’s not like I haven’t wanted to or tried!
“I didn’t want to sell the Big issue to begin with because Leamington is my home town and there is a stigma attached to it. But I’m not begging and I’m selling a good product – it’s honest, not politically driven and has news that you wouldn’t necessarily see in newspapers. And I believe in it as a product.”
Will’s cheery nature is partly down to his travels in West Africa – including Gambia and Senegal.
He said: “People in Africa greet one another even if they’re strangers and it’s civilized. Whereas people over here are too busy on their phones or defensive even if you’re just being polite.
“I try and greet as many people as possible because otherwise I feel like we would all just ignore each other. Some people don’t like it, but I’m just being friendly.”
Will continues to search for a suitable full-time job, and says he would also love to settle down and have a family.
In the meantime, those in Leamington town centre can expect to hear a loud cry of ‘Big Issue!’, accompanied by a ‘good morning’.