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Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, becomes a Big Issue vendor in Cambridge for a day



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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recently took to the streets of Cambridge to get a taste of life as a Big Issue vendor.

The Archbishop of Canterbury sells The Big Issue in Cambridge. Picture: Bill Lawton
The Archbishop of Canterbury sells The Big Issue in Cambridge. Picture: Bill Lawton

He spent time trying to persuade the public to purchase a magazine from him, alongside local vendor Lee Welham at his pitch outside the Round Church in Cambridge. The Archbishop has been in Cambridge for the last six weeks on study leave and the pair struck up a friendship in that time.

Vendor Lee Welham’s enthusiasm has made him a big hit on his pitch, turning him into a tour guide and tourist attraction in the city. The 37-year-old is no stranger to looking after fellow vendors in his co-ordinating role across Cambridgeshire and he took Welby under his wing as the latter swapped his robes for a Big Issue tabard to spend 40 minutes in Lee’s shoes.

The church leader sold five magazines, donning a facemask to keep hide his identity hidden. The Archbishop said: “The Big Issue changes lives and changes society. Each time you stop for a chat with a vendor and buy a copy of the magazine, you are part of that change.

"I’m hugely grateful to have had the chance to go on a shift with Lee and get a glimpse of what it’s like selling The Big Issue. When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus - who famously said he had no place to lay his head - it’s clear that homelessness is an issue that matters profoundly to God, and that tackling poverty together is the essential work of a society where every person is truly valued.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury sells The Big Issue in Cambridge. Picture: Bill Lawton
The Archbishop of Canterbury sells The Big Issue in Cambridge. Picture: Bill Lawton

Lee Welham said: “This community is so wonderful. It was brilliant to show the Archbishop that everyone does treat the vendors well around here. I’ve built a lovely community. Each and every one of these people here comes and says hello to me every morning.”

Chris Falchi-Stead, director of sales and operations at The Big Issue, said: “The sell-off experience was a great opportunity to show the Archbishop, on a small scale, what everyday life selling the magazine on the streets is like.

“Lee is a fantastic ambassador for The Big Issue, showing the Archbishop the ropes, providing sales tips as well as sharing his experiences.” Lee also took the Archbishop on a punt down the River Cam with a picnic, provided by local Café, Le Patissier.

Read the Archbishop’s full interview with Lee on religion, hope and homelessness on BigIssue.com or in the magazine from your local Big Issue seller.

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