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Cambridge Big Issue seller’s quest to turn his life around with his own coffee trike business

Every day Jonjo Doe stands outside Sainsbury's on Sidney Street in Cambridge selling the Big Is..

By admin , in Cambridge , at April 27, 2018

Every day Jonjo Doe stands outside Sainsbury's on Sidney Street in Cambridge selling the Big Issue.

Over the course of a 10-12 hour shift , he is repeatedly ignored by passers by and has abuse shouted at him as people make assumptions about his lifestyle.

Jonjo Doe says he finds it especially hard to be ignored by people on a daily basis as he tries to sell The Big Issue.

After being homeless when he first came to Cambridge, the 33-year-old worked and saved enough to eventually have his own flat.

Now he's looking to set up his own coffee business to run out the back of a trike in a bid to better his life.

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Dealing with the stigma

Jonjo said: "I started selling the Big Issue three-and-a-half years ago. I was staying at Jimmy's Night Shelter, I saved up, moved into shared housing, stayed there for a year and now I've got my own flat.

"I'd been in trouble with the law, I came to Cambridge out of prison. I've got family around here and it kept me away from trouble. "

Big Issue seller Jonjo Doe is now setting up his own coffee business that he's going to run from a trike (Image: Warren Gunn/Trinity Mirror)

On a daily basis Jonjo feels he has to fight a stigma that's been attached to Big Issue sellers.

He said: "People think we are all drug dealers or alcoholics, I'm not. I want to move forward with my life. People say 'leave me alone' and 'Why don't you get a job?'.

"My success rate is about 0.2 per cent of people I ask buy a copy. For every 500 people I ask, I'll maybe sell one, it's really slow."

Big Issue seller Jonjo Doe (Image: Warren Gunn/Trinity Mirror)

He added: "People are upset I'm here, they don't think to help me by buying a Big Issue. Generally I get the feeling they think I'm in their way, an inconvenience.

"It can be demoralising when you're being ignored all the time, it can hurt your pride.

"I'm hoping the coffee business will get me back to reality a bit. The Big Issue isn't something that's made to be lived on."

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The Cambridge Coffee Trike

Jonjo's dream is to set up a coffee business which he'll run from his trike.

After working on the Big Issue for three years Jonjo used all his savings to buy the trike which forms the basis of his coffee enterprise.

Savvy shopper Jonjo was scouting for just the right trike and managed to snag a bargain, getting his for half the normal £5,400 price.

Jonjo Doe is hoping to break the stigma attached to Big Issue sellers with his new business

He said: "I've got the trike and I've registered the trademark, Cambridge Coffee.

"It's going to be like a little coffee shop on wheels.

"I had £2,000 in savings by last year and my family helped a but with costs for the trike. Now I'm stuck at the funding stage."

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The coffee trike will also be eco-friendly, Jonjo wants to help protect the environment and has already sourced reusable cups he can offer his customers when the business starts.

Jonjo Doe hopes to set up a coffee business on the back of his trike

Jonjo is slowly building his GoFundMe targets, creating mini targets for each stage of the project.

He added: "I need about £10,000 or more. It always seems like you need more once you take into account things like the pitch licence. A pitch in the city centre costs £3,000 a year at least. "

You might recognise Jonjo Doe from his time selling big issues outside Sainsbury's on Sidney Street (Image: Warren Gunn/Trinity Mirror)

Declining Big Issue sales and increased beggar numbers have made it harder for Jonjo to save the money he needs for the rest of the project, so he's set up a GoFundMe account to try and give the business the boost it needs to get off the ground.

He said: "I do get support from people and that's rally good but it's not as good as it used to be.

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"Homelessness is on the rise, there are more beggars in Cambridge and people are more likely to give them money instead of buying a Big Issue. I was able to save money for a while.

"I've barely got money to get by, selling The Big Issue now."

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Using GoFundMe Jonjo has raised £1,779 in two weeks, he needs £3,000 to begin the engineering work for the box to be fitted on the back of the trike.

He said: "If I can get to £3,000 then I'll be able to have the box built for the back and the coffee name on the side and then people will see I'm making progress."


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