Ex-Big Issue Salesman Opens Shop to Help Young People Get Into Sports

Gleeson fell into homelessness at a young age and says his time on the streets had a huge impact on his life. Image: provided

“I used The Big Issue for what it must be used for sometimes. I bought the magazine for a certain price and sold it for more and it gave me enough money to eat and take take care of myself a little. This should not be underestimated, it kept me alive.

After selling The Big Issue, Gleeson traveled the country and even ended up volunteering in Africa before joining the Royal Navy at the age of 31.

Sports Traider is a chain of charity shops across the UK, selling pre-loved sportswear to raise money for sporting opportunities for children in deprived areas while supporting young offenders in the native North East of Gleeson.

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Gleeson will run the Clayton Street store and work with Newcastle organizations to introduce young people to the sport.

“Working with underprivileged children was one of the great things in my life that took me out of the cycle that I was in in my mid-twenties,” Gleeson said.

“The store is doing well so far. In the first week, I think our Sports Traider was the best-selling store in the country, so that’s a good omen.

“It’s been hard work getting to this point, but anything worth doing is hard. I have no experience in this area, but everything is going well so far.

Sports Traider Founder, Lance Haggith said, “Ricky has gone above and beyond to help this project come to fruition and I’m thrilled to have him leading our new store.

“Ricky wholeheartedly embraces all of our goals as a charity and we can’t wait to see how he takes things forward with the support of others.”

In addition to running the store, Gleeson also runs a podcast called From The Outside Looking In discussing addiction, getting out of prison and homelessness with a variety of special guests.

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The podcast started in partnership with former Big Issue Seller Earl John Charltonwho later worked with the North East Homeless charity.

The couple grew up together and decided to join forces again last year to record podcast episodes about homelessness.

Gleeson continued the podcast, sharing his own personal experiences with addiction and living on the streets, as well as interviewing guests about their own experiences.

“We are the same people as when we were homeless. All that has changed are the circumstances,” Gleeson said.

“It’s just about trying to get people to understand that the people you see on the street: they’re real people.

“I like to talk about it and raise awareness: people always have a story and they are real human beings. People have to stop being so judgmental.


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