NEW: The Big Issue will be sold in shops as we respond to Covid-19 crisis

We took our vendors off the streets to safeguard them from the coronavirus outbreak – so we're moving into stores in a 29-year first so that we can continue to support them

The Big Issue has big news. For the first time in the magazine’s 29-year history, you will soon be able to buy a copy with your shopping at the supermarket.

Two weeks ago we announced that we were temporarily stopping our vendors from selling on the streets as the Covid-19 outbreak meant it was no longer safe for them to continue. But we still have a duty to support the hard-working people who sell the magazine every week to make a living. With that in mind, and with many of us locked down at home other than to venture out for essentials – we’re hitting the shops.

From April 2, Sainsbury’s will be the first major supermarket to stock The Big Issue in hundreds of stores across the UK and online. And soon, newsagents McColl’s, Martin’s and RS McColl will  carry the magazine too in 1,400 stores nationwide.

We are adapting under lockdown to make sure we can continue supporting the vulnerable people who rely on the magazine to lift themselves out of poverty, despite a total loss of street sales.

Readers old and new can buy the magazine from stores for £3 and 50 per cent of net proceeds will go into a vendor support fund. The other half will make it possible for us to continue our vital work with vendors now and in the future.

Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said: “We have helped well over 100,000 people over the past 29 years, and on average we put £5m into the pockets of our vendors every single year. Now more than ever, we need your support. Our income comes from street sales and without our vendors on the streets we cannot support those people that really need us now and in the future.

“We are thrilled that the good folk at Sainsbury’s and McColl’s have partnered with us so that readers new and old can continue to buy The Big Issue during these turbulent times. As usual, we go half and half with our vendors. You can also buy a magazine online or subscribe for three months whilst your vendor isn’t on the street.”

It’s the latest in a series of innovations by The Big Issue to give readers alternative ways to buy the magazine and support our often homeless and vulnerably-housed vendors. And this is still the perfect time to take out a three-month subscription, for just £32.50, to help see our vendors through the worst of the coronavirus crisis.

Paul Mills-Hicks, commercial director at Sainsbury’s said: “We are proud to be supporting a cause as important as The Big Issue Group, which exists to offer homeless people, or individuals at risk of becoming homeless the opportunity to earn an income. Coronavirus has affected everyone in the UK, and it’s important that we show our support for each other in these increasingly challenging times.

“We hope that by providing a means for our customers to purchase a copy of The Big Issue, we can encourage people to continue to buy the magazine, which so many vulnerable people rely on.”

It’s a historic move and the most radical shift in how The Big Issue operates since it launched in 1991.

DID YOU KNOW…

The Big Issue is a multi award-winning magazine, edited by the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) current Editor of the Year.

Jonathan Miller, chief executive, McColl’s, said: “We are delighted to be supporting The Big Issue at this important time. We urge our customers to lend their help by buying copies of the magazine available at our stores to help the organisation’s street vendors who will be struggling to make a living as people stay at home amid the coronavirus outbreak.”

Help protect lives and safeguard the NHS by staying home, if you can. But next time you head out to pick up essentials, grab a copy of The Big Issue too.