Who do you think Sheffield city centre is more generous to- a Big Issue seller or an Oxfam fundraiser?

Ben McHugh is often sent to a different UK city every day to try to encourage Oxfam donations
Ben McHugh is often sent to a different UK city every day to try to encourage Oxfam donations
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Fargate often teems with people in too much of a rush to give street-sellers a second glance. Today's rainy mid-October lunchtime was no different.

Ben McHugh, aged 23, is working in Sheffield today as an Oxfam fundraiser along with around ten others in the Fargate area.

The Big Issue offers people facing poverty and exclusion the opportunity to earn money by selling the weekly magazine

The Big Issue offers people facing poverty and exclusion the opportunity to earn money by selling the weekly magazine

Their aim is to sign people up to make monthly donations for the charity which focuses on alleviating global poverty.

In Ben’s role verbal abuse from passers-by is common and he gets ‘frequent F offs’.

But a few kinds words can make it worthwhile.

Ben said: “The day can be pretty ruthless but gets better if you get just one person stopping to have a nice conversation with you.”

Ben normally signs up two to four new donors a day but on some days nobody signs up at all.

Two hours into his shift in Sheffield he had not managed to sign up anyone.

He’s not the only street-seller having a difficult day in the city centre.

One Big Issue vendor said he’s been ‘struggling’ for customers since being moved from the end of Chapel Walk, where he had been based for years, to outside John Lewis opposite the City Hall.

On a good day he sells 20 of the £2.50 magazine and on a bad day only five.

He said: “The thing I like about it is that no two days are the same.”

Like Ben, this man is often subject to verbal abuse - but he prefers being insulted to being completely ignored.

He said: “At least when somebody tells me to f*** off, they’ve actually acknowledged me.”

Another Big Issue vendor has been selling the weekly magazine for a year while looking for other work.

Speaking outside Marks & Spencer on Fargate he said he is looking forward to the Christmas period when people are more generous.

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