A RUNAWAY teen who was addicted to drugs now runs a business worth £9m.
Philip Waltham fled from his home in Hull to escape his substance abuse issues and found an invaluable job opportunity that taught him skills to launch his own company.
He got a job selling Big Issue magazines for three years in Clerkenwell and Hampstead in London, and is now speaking out about how the work helped him start his own company.
The 44-year-old, whose firm Bulk Vintage Wholesale now turns over £9 million a year, explained the experience taught him the basics of business.
He said: "The Big Issue helped me put money in my back pocket and feed myself.
"They taught me how to respect myself. They taught me how to budget my money and how important a roof was.
"I had to have money to buy Big Issues so I could sell Big Issues and that taught me how to budget.
"The thing that has saved my life is selling second-hand clothes and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for The Big Issue."
After his three years selling magazines, Philip opened a market stall in Camden, London, and now oversees two high street stores in Newcastle and York.
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The vintage store is set to open two more branches, in Liverpool and Manchester.
Philip added: "We fight fast fashion. We save clothing from landfills, we go to big factories and take clothing. Last year we saved around 600 tonnes of clothing and then repurposed them to sell on."
Big Issue founder Lord John Bird said: "Our vendors sell The Big Issue to earn a legitimate income which not only provides them with money to get back on their feet but also helps them develop the key life and business skills they need to thrive.
"They are then supported by our frontline teams, who are always on hand to help, with anything from accessing key services such as healthcare to simply being there to give advice when needed.
"Philip's story is brilliantly inspiring and a great example of the transformative effect the Big Issue can have on people's lives."
The magazine is sold by the homeless, long term unemployed, and those who need money to avoid getting into debt, Big Issue says.
Vendors are given five free magazines which are then sold to the public for £3, with fresh copies bought for £1.50.
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