Since 1995, the Big Issue Foundation’s free Hand Up service has connected more than 30,000 Big Issue vendors to the vital resources, services and opportunities needed to turn their lives around and move onto employment within and beyond the Big Issue when they are ready.
Hand Up is the Big Issue Foundation’s free service for Big Issue vendors and others participating in Big Issue enterprises. Through our trained outreach and case workers, we connect individuals to essential local resources and services and facilitate them to sustain these networks and move forwards independently. Hand Up is delivered from nine community-based Big Issue bases across England, Wales and Scotland. The service is person-centred, place-based and peer-supported.
Securing the Basics
As soon as an individual signs up to sell Big Issue or to participate in one of our other enterprises they can access support across six Hand Up pathways:
- Housing: access to and maintenance of secure, affordable, and stable accommodation
- Wellbeing: access to adequate food, weather appropriate clothing, home energy, toiletries, and other essentials
- Health: access to the right care and treatment for physical and mental health needs, including addiction support needs, and access to resources to sustain health
- Money: support with budgeting, saving and connection to debt support, financial
- advice and benefits services
- Digital: access and capability to use the internet to reach
- essential services, cost efficient products and to undertake financial transactions
- Citizenship: access to enablers for active citizenship including gaining official ID, developing language skills, and establishing social networks
These pathways are designed to help vendors find their feet and make the most of the financial independence they begin to gain when they sell the magazine, accelerating their journey out of poverty, addressing the toughest challenges like homelessness quickly and helping to prevent problems getting worse by taking action early.
If a vendor decides they want to move from selling the magazine, we’ll be by their side to support them with their next steps through our New Futures pathways:
- Education and training: access to informal, community-based learning in universal skills including numeracy, literacy, digital literacy, ESOL, and civic skills, as well as connection to training and adult education within and beyond the Big Issue
- Volunteering: access to community-based volunteering opportunities to develop skills, confidence and networks
- Involvement: access to opportunities to influence social change within and beyond Big Issue
- Employment: pre and in-work support for disadvantaged individuals entering the workplace for the first time or after time away from work. We support individuals accessing Big Issue enterprises and those accessing local employment opportunities
Hand Up Fund
We offer a small grant scheme for individuals accessing our services. The scheme contributes resources towards the achievement of a personal goal, such as taking part in training or gaining a qualification, or towards putting in place the foundations for change. For example, obtaining official ID or setting up a first home. The grants are partial and individuals accessing them contribute towards the total cost required. This contribution is determined based on total cost, urgency, and the income of the individual. Our grants catalyse the ability for individuals to move forward.
Every year we identify areas where vendors need more intensive support and work with funders and partners to address these through our Hand Up plus interventions.
Find out more about our current priorities.
Donate to support vendors today
Gabi Sima, Service Broker Team Leader
“I ended up with only a few minutes to finish preparing the imminent English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) lesson, as vendors are already coming into the office. My students are doing their best to learn English and have many questions. This lesson focused on giving personal information, including introductions and etiquette.”