Fears Big Issue seller who has spread ‘positive vibes’ for 20 years could be deported


Rumors are swirling on social media suggesting that Jeff Knight, a well-known and loved Big Issue seller who has lived in Bristol for more than 20 years, could be deported from the country

Bristolian Jeff Knight, who moved to the UK from Jamaica at the age of 32
Bristolian Jeff Knight, who moved to the UK from Jamaica at the age of 32

A community is rallying together to prevent a much-loved Big Issue seller known for “spreading positive vibes” from being deported from the UK.

Speculation is swirling on social media suggesting that Jeff Knight, a well-known and loved Big Issue seller who has lived in Bristol board for more than 20 years, could soon be deported from the country.

The Home Office – the Government department responsible for immigration – has so far been unable to confirm or deny if Jeff has indeed been threatened with deportation as the petition states, Bristol Livereports.

The Mirror has approached the Government department for comment but has not yet heard back.

Jeff, who moved to the UK from Jamaica at the age of 32, is widely known for selling the charitable magazine on Stokes Croft, where he has long been a popular figure with passers-by.

He brightens people’s day by fist-bumping, hugging and chatting to them, and many people see interaction with Jeff as an important part of their daily routine.

People are campaigning for Jeff’s right to stay in the country
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Image:

bristollive)

In 2019, a successful crowdfunding campaign meant the former rough sleeper could have a roof over his head in the form of his own van – and now people are campaigning for his right to stay in the country.

A petition in support of Jeff has already attracted thousands of signatures in less than 24 hours and people are being asked to write character reference letters to increase their chances of staying in the country.

Speaking to media this morning, Jeff said he was unable to go into specifics about the case but wanted to thank those who have already submitted character reference letters.

“I’ve been here a long time and I want to stay here. I love it here and I love the people I talk to each day,” he said.

“I couldn’t imagine a world without it.

“For now I just need character reference letters to help me out. I’ve already had quite a few and that makes me feel amazing. I want to say thank you to everyone who has already supported me and to everyone who wants to support me.” in the future.

“If those people want to help me out by writing a character reference I would be so grateful.”

Jeff said the best way for people to help is by writing a letter in support of his right to stay in the UK and dropping it off at the convenience store next to Turbo Island, from where he can collect it.

People are also being urged to write to their local MP to show their support, with Thangam Debbonaire listed as the MP to contact in many of the social media posts.

A spokesperson in the Bristol West MP’s office said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases, however, we are aware of the case and are keeping a close eye on it.”

Well-known Bristolians including Portishead co-founder Adrian Utley and reality television star Siânnise Fudge are among those to have backed Jeff so far.

Ms Fudge, who was a contestant on series six of Love Island, shared a picture of Jeff on her Instagram story along with the caption: “This is truly heartbreaking.

“I always walked past him on my way to work and he was always spreading positive vibes to everyone and always smiling!

“He’s a true Bristolian – we need to keep him there.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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