PAM Clark and Paul Clarkson would usually be outside all day selling The Big Issue.

But the coronavirus pandemic brought that to a halt in March.

“On the first morning of lockdown we got up and went to get our magazines and we were told they weren’t being printed any more,” Pam, 52, said.

“It’s like you’ve not got a purpose.”

So for the past two months the couple have been riding out the lockdown in their basement flat in Hove.

And, if you will believe it, they have not had one argument.

“We’re very outgoing people, we don’t like to be cooped up in four walls,” Pam said.

“It’s been quite stifling.

“We can’t get TV signal down here. We’ve only got a bed, no chairs to sit on.

“But to have this amount of time to have the conversations we’ve had is quite nice in a way.

“But it has been traumatic at times.

“We found out two weeks ago one of our customers had passed away.

“We have so many lovely customers and it’s been quite difficult not to see them.

“But Paul and I are lucky because we’ve got each other.

The Argus: The Big Issue sellers have been unable to get out on the streets for two months. Photo: Paul HardingThe Big Issue sellers have been unable to get out on the streets for two months. Photo: Paul Harding

“We’ve helped each other through the dark times and the bright.”

The couple have certainly been through both.

They met six years ago after Pam was brutally attacked in the street shortly after becoming homeless.

“I’d just lost my mum, and she lived in a council house,” she said.

“When she died they gave me three days to move everything out including myself.

“When you lose your home I can’t really explain how devastating it is.

“If you don’t have a home you can’t get a job.

“Then I was attacked in the street and Paul came to help me.

“We’ve stuck together since. He saved me.”

Soon the couple started living together in a tent.

In 2018 Pam began selling The Big Issue. Paul joined a few months later.

“There’s a lot of stigma about being homeless,” Pam said.

The Argus: The Big Issue has been supporting its vendors while they remain at homeThe Big Issue has been supporting its vendors while they remain at home

“I was an industrial cleaner and Paul was a builder but we both weren’t able to do that anymore.

“But being able to sell The Big Issue is like being employed.

“It’s our lifeline. It gives us freedom and dignity.

“It’s a hand up, not a handout. It gives you your pride back.

“Me and Paul lived in a tent for a long time and you wake up and have nothing to do.

You can’t do the washing or cook breakfast.

“Now we have a purpose.”

Much of lockdown for the couple has been finding ways to pass the time.

Monopoly and cards have been the order of the day.

But The Big Issue has certainly helped, even if they cannot sell it for the time being.

“They’ve been sending us money. They even got me a laptop, which blew my head away,” said Pam.

“I’m not very computer literate so I’ve been spending lots of time learning how to use it.

“I’ve been writing a diary every day and hopefully that will make the Issue whenever it comes out.

“I write as soon as I get up in the morning and say how I feel.

“I’ve just been writing how I feel as a spur of the moment thing.

The Argus: Big Issue founder Lord BirdBig Issue founder Lord Bird

“It’ll be interesting for me to look at it once this is over.”

But with lockdown loosening the couple have been able to enjoy the company of other residents.

“Sometimes we go for a walk on the seafront, have a ciggy, and sit,” Pam said.

“When you become homeless you become a people watcher, so we love looking at different people and guessing what they’re doing and feeling. You can always tell by the look on someone’s face if they’re feeling low, so to say hello to that person puts a smile on their face.

“Just the little things like that make a big difference on your life.”

But for both of them nothing will be compare to doing what they love.

“I can’t wait to get the call saying we can go back out,” Pam said.

“We’ll have big smiles with our Big Issues.”

The Big Issue was founded by Lord Bird in 1991. 

A spokeswoman for the magazine said: "Due to the coronavirus outbreak, vendors aren’t able to sell on the streets.

"You can support The Big Issue by downloading the app, available on the Apple Store and Google Play, subscribing online at or buying the magazine from leading retailers, with half of proceeds going directly to vendors."

  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set u p to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. To donate visit