Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, has called on the public to support the network of Big Issue sellers, many of whom are homeless or vulnerably housed, by buying The Big Issue magazine from local vendors, subscribing or donating to an appeal.
The pandemic has hit Big issue sellers hard, as lockdowns, restrictions, and plans to work from home take many customers off the street.
Lord Bird appealed to the public after an incredibly tough 2021 for the organisation and its 1,800 vendors, saying: “January is always a difficult time, but with continued restrictions in place, meaning many people are still working from home, coupled with the government warning that we may see up to a quarter of workers being off work due to high Covid levels in the population, means that our vendors urgently need your support.”
Big Issue sellers are self-employed, buying copies of the magazine for £1.50 and selling them on to customers for £3. The Big Issue organisation exists to give vulnerable people or those in poverty a hand up to improve their situation, rather than just a handout.
Between March 2020 and April 2021, in the first year of the pandemic, The Big Issue supported more than 3,000 vendors with £1.3 million in direct financial support, reducing the increase of housing debt during the pandemic and likelihood of eviction. The organisation also provided a “comeback kit” after lockdown with with essential PPE, masks, hand sanitiser, wipes, and continues to provide vendors with contact-less payment machines.
The Big Issue Foundation, the registered charity which is part of The Big Issue Group, supports sellers of the magazine to help themselves out of poverty with wrap-around support.