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Our Vendor Impact

The pandemic hit The Big Issue hard.

Between March 2020 and April 2021, The Big Issue supported 3,027 Big Issue vendors to earn a legitimate income through selling Big Issue magazines on the street of the UK.

We also provided over £1.3m of direct financial support, reducing the increase of housing debt during the pandemic and likelihood of eviction. We continue to supply vendors with PPE worth over £142,455 keeping themselves, stakeholders and the public safe whilst selling the Big Issue.

Over the past year we have continued to place our vendors at the heart of our work. For the first time in 30 years The Big Issue could not be sold, removing the financial safety net (an average collective income of £78,000 per week) forcing us to quickly adjust and adapt how we work. Like many, we continued to deliver emotional and practical support virtually whilst continuously asking vendors what they needed.

Vendor support during lockdown: March 2020-December 2020

  • £100,000 has been distributed since Christmas. It went out as cash, supermarket vouchers and other support payments towards rent, utility bills and family support costs. 
  • We equipped all 2745 new and returning vendors with a Comeback kit – a bag with essential PPE, masks, hand sanitiser, wipes. We spent £142,455 on PPE.
  • Acceleration to cashless selling means over 25% have card readers and another 25% are ready to ‘go cashless’.

Vendor support during 2nd lockdown: December 2020-April 2021

  • Over 1,000 of our most vulnerable vendors were supported with direct payments and supermarket vouchers valuing £68,575
  • Approving 136 applications to the Vendor support Fund helped families to purchase specific essential items totaling £8,911
  • 1,822 vendors took up the subsidy scheme (The Big Issue contributed 50p for each magazine) so each vendors receiving an average benefit of £95.

186 vendors issued energy vouchers

The Big Issue Foundation established a partnership with the Fuel Bank Foundation with the aim of helping those vendors in accomodation to keep their electrics and heating running while facing financial hardship. During February and March 2021, TBI and the Fuel Bank Foundation issued £6,304 of energy vouchers for 186 Big Issue vendors and their 262 children. The Big Issue plans to extend this partnership and continue supporting vendors in the future.

Wellbeing support during 2021 lockdown: December 2020-April 2021

  • Our Frontline staff made 4,820 calls to 1,781 individual vendors to discuss their immediate support needs and offer advice and support.
  • Of those 1,781 vendors 23% are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, with six per cent rough sleeping on the streets of the UK.
  • Chart showing topic of wellbeing conversations during lockdown.
  • These figures show that during periods of lockdown and isolation, Big Issue vendors feel as much in need of support focused on their own wellbeing as they are of financial support.
  • Fifty-five per cent of calls focusing on wellbeing dealt directly with vendors’ mental health, particularly feelings of loneliness and social isolation

Vendor Voices

Mark Worthington 1419 Tony Cobley

Mark Worthington, Co-op, Ivybridge

With the help of The Big Issue, I was housed in a little bungalow.

John Williams, Waterstones, Swansea

I called The Big Issue when I was in lockdown because I wanted to hear a friendly voice.

Easton Christian Louise Haywood Schiefer 1424

Easton Christian, White City tube, London

Whenever I need to use the computer, the people in The Big Issue office are there for me.

Simone Gill Tommy Hantwell

Simone Gill, Tesco Metro, Plymouth

Selling The Big Issue helped me save for a deposit for a new place.

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Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.
Big Issue vendors Martin McKenzie

Support us today

Your gift today will mean Big Issue vendors will get the support they need to progress forward in life. It will mean vendors who are struggling with their mental health are supported to access vital advice and guidance services, those facing financial hardship could receive food and utility support and vulnerably housed vendors are supported gain emergency/sheltered accommodation.

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