Big Issue seller and pet Pomeranian prove a big hit on streets of Sheffield

For the thousands of commuters who walk past them every week, Terry Harrison and his dog Roxy have become familiar faces in Sheffield.
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The Big Issue seller, who is originally from York but now lives in Mexborough, was a homeless alcoholic 16 years ago when he was introduced to the scheme by a friend.

Since then, the 45-year-old has sold the homeless charity’s magazine all over Yorkshire and the Humber, selling in York, Scarborough, Goole - and now Sheffield.

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Terry has three main pitches in the city, two on either end of Howard Street and one near Chapel Walk.

Terry Harrison has been a Big Issue seller for 16 years.Terry Harrison has been a Big Issue seller for 16 years.
Terry Harrison has been a Big Issue seller for 16 years.

Ever-present by his side is Roxy, an eight-year-old black Pomeranian with three legs.

She lost her front right leg last year after getting knocked over chasing another dog over the road, with Terry having to fork out around £1,000 for the four operations she needed to make her better.

Nevertheless, she still gets around well enough and when Terry is selling sits obediently on his rucksack.

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Like Roxy, Terry walks with a distinct limp, a product of the arthritis he now suffers from after a car accident when he was younger.

But otherwise he is well, and stands as a testament to the power of the Big Issue to transform the lives of its vendors.

“My dad was an alcoholic and I used to be as well,” he says.

“I was on the street for three years but there are too many beggars who are not genuine.

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“I feel sorry for them if they are genuine but a lot of doing it for booze and drugs.

"And giving to them doesn’t help the situation it makes it worse.”

Each magazine Terry buys from the Big Issue costs £1.25 and is sold for £2.50, giving him a 50 per cent markup on each copy.

Terry says he can sell 80-100 magazines in a good week, making around £500 a month, plus tips.

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"If you are polite, your hands are clean and you’ve got change it is easy,” he says.

“Whatever pitch I get I can sell - if it is a rubbish pitch I can build it up.

“But the customers are your main thing. All of them are good with me - especially when I’ve got Roxy with me.”

“The amount of treats she gets and photographs people ask for is unbelievable.”

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Originally a painter and decorator by trade, Terry fell out of love with the industry when a ‘friend’ ripped him off for £3,000, and he now says he will probably sell the Big Issue until he retires.

But despite the long hours and cold starts, he says he likes meeting members of the public too much to give it up.

“A lot of them have become friends - I ring them up to see how they are,” he says.

“And I make enough money now to save up to go and see my girlfriend in London or buy a new phone or coat.

“But you’ve got to be honest with people.”