The Big Issue exists to help the homeless and vulnerable people who are experiencing poverty across the UK – and there are many ways you can support them too.
One of the key ways we achieve this is through our network of vendors, many of whom are homeless or living in vulnerable circumstances. Selling the magazine gives them the opportunity to earn a legitimate income through working, not begging.
However, the coronavirus crisis has critically impacted our vendors’ ability to make a living. With lockdown measures in place across the UK, they are unable to sell the magazine – the effects of which will be devastating.
As such, your support is needed now more than ever.
How can I help the homeless and vulnerable people?
There are three key ways in which you can help us make a difference right now:
Subscribe to The Big Issue
A three-month subscription to our award-winning magazine will help support our vendors through this challenging time. In keeping with The Big Issue ethos, 50 per cent of net proceeds will go directly to supporting vendors during this crisis.
Download The Big Issue app
You can download single issues of The Big Issue in our new app – an alternative way to support our vendors whilst they are unable to sell physical copies of the magazine. Single-issue downloads are priced at £2.99 and a variety of back issues are available.
The app also features stories from our new Big Community channel, which provides uplifting and inspiring stories about people and businesses coming together at this time of crisis, to support the most vulnerable in society.
Make a financial contribution
Making a financial contribution to The Big Issue is another way to support us and our vendors at this challenging time. If you’re working from home, why not give the cost of your daily commute?
However you choose to help, your support will make a real difference.
Of the money raised through our current appeal, 50 per cent of net proceeds will go to supporting vendors and 50 per cent will go to The Big Issue to ensure we continue to be here for those that need us now and in the future.
Since launching our appeal in light of the coronavirus crisis, we have begun to help vendors in the following ways:
• Through a mass dispersal of supermarket vouchers as an immediate response.
• We have paid to top-up electric and gas keys where needed in order to keep vendors warm and fed.
• We are working to provide on-going social and emotional support. For many vendors this is an incredibly lonely time and they miss their customers and the daily interactions and relationships.
• A key part of our work is helping vendors to understand and access all of the support services available to them at this time, such as access to Universal Credit. This kind of support is more crucial now than ever before.
You can read more about how your contributions are helping to support our vendors here.
How can I help the homeless near me?
At least 320,000 people in the UK are homeless, according to recent figures from housing charity Shelter. That’s equivalent to around one in 200 people nationally.
Whilst over half of homeless people (170,000) are in London according to the figures, high rates of homelessness were recorded around the country in locations including Birmingham, Luton, Brighton & Hove, Slough, Dartford, Milton Keynes, Harlow, Watford, Epsom, Reading, Broxbourne, Basildon, Peterborough and Coventry.
If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.
The research shows that homelessness has increased most rapidly in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside, and the North West.
With rough sleepers now a commonplace sight, there are a number of ways you can help the homeless people in your area.
If you see someone on the streets, the simplest way to help is simply by speaking to the person.
The positive impact talking can have on mental health has been well-documented, as The Samaritans’ Small Talk Saves Lives campaign illustrated. As such, a simple greeting or asking ‘how are you?’ can go a long way.
Contact Streetlink (England and Wales)
Streetlink connects people living on the streets in England and Wales with local authority and outreach teams to get them support. It relies on members of the public sending an alert when they see someone sleeping rough.
Sending an alert is easy. You can do it on their website, www.streetlink.org.uk, via their mobile app, or by calling 0300 500 0914.
You’ll need to supply details of where and when you saw the person, along with a brief description of them.
Under 18 or in need of urgent help? Alert the authorities
The Streetlink service is for adult rough sleepers aged 18 and over. If you see someone you suspect is under 18, you should contact the police or your local authority.
That’s because anyone under the age of 18 is classed as vulnerable in the eyes of the law. As such, they are classed as being in priority need of housing by their local council, which has a duty to find them somewhere to sleep.
Similarly, if you think the person is in immediate danger or needs urgent care, you should call 999.
Help them become a Big Issue vendor
Being a Big Issue vendor helps the homeless and vulnerable to earn a living, develop new skills and become part of a community.
Becoming a vendor is simple. We provide five free magazines so people can start earning straight away, along with ongoing support from the team.
If you speak to someone on the streets that is interested in becoming a vendor, you can help by pointing them in the direction of their local distribution office for a coffee and a chat.
And of course, if they’re already a Big Issue vendor, you can buy a copy of the magazine. Our vendors buy the magazine for £1.25 and sell it for £2.50, meaning they make £1.25 on every issue sold. During the coronavirus crisis, the magazine cover price has increased to £3 with vendors keeping the extra 50p so we can continue supporting them at this difficult time.
There are various homeless organisations and charities in the UK, many of which rely on the support of volunteers to carry out some of their valuable work. You can find details of some of these below.
Which charities help the homeless?
There are a large number of homelessness charities working at both a local and national level within the UK.
These charities provide help and advice for people who are rough sleeping, in temporary, insecure or unsuitable accommodation, or at risk of becoming homeless.
The services offered vary from charity to charity, reflecting the fact that every homeless person has different needs.
Major UK homelessness charities include:
Established in 1967, Crisis offers education, employment, housing and well-being services from centres in London, Newcastle, Oxford, Edinburgh and Merseyside. It also campaigns to find solutions to problems around homelessness in the UK.
Shelter offers advice, information, representation and advocacy via an online support network, as well as advice and support services.
The charity also campaigns on issues around homelessness and the UK housing crisis.
The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.
The Big Issue Foundation
The Big Issue Foundation was founded in 1995 to offer outreach work to vendors. It provides practical help, such as helping vendors to access health care, get to housing meetings or job interviews, open bank accounts and get passports.
It also helps vendors reconnect with estranged family members or friends, acquire skills to get back into employment, and make the move from the street to hostel, then hostel to temporary accommodation or something more permanent – before helping out with the essentials to set up home.
Centrepoint supports more than 9,200 young people aged 16-25 in London, Manchester, Yorkshire and the North East of England. It also provides more than 1,000 bed spaces for young people from the 60 accommodation services it runs in Sunderland, Bradford, Manchester, Barnsley and 14 London boroughs.
You can read more about these and other UK homelessness charities here.
What is the government doing to help the homeless?
The UK government initially took swift action on homelessness during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, allocating £3.2m to its ‘everybody in’ scheme to move all rough sleepers off the streets in late March.
That scheme saw the Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government write to councils’ homelessness managers and rough sleeping co-ordinators, calling for them to move homeless people off the streets. Allocations to homelessness teams were also made from a wider pot of £1.6bn.
It went on to launch a taskforce to find long-term homes for people housed in emergency accommodation, claiming this was the first step in a plan to end rough sleeping after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Homelessness tzar Dame Louise Casey was put in charge of the taskforce to provide rough sleepers “long-term, safe accommodation” in order to prevent those who previously slept rough from returning to the streets.
However, more still needs to be done to eradicate rough sleeping completely – especially in light of reports that the government will no longer fund its emergency programme to house rough sleepers in hotels.
A report leaked to the Manchester Evening News in mid-May suggested that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government had “drawn a line” under the ‘everyone in’ scheme – prompting fears that the number of rough sleepers could once again rocket.
The Big Issue has been clear from the start of this crisis – it is unacceptable for people to be dumped back on to the streets. The scourge of rough sleeping must end.
We will continue to fight on behalf of homeless people everywhere to ensure the government is held to its pledge to end rough sleeping by 2024. To do this, we need your help now more than ever – so please do subscribe to the magazine, download our app or make a financial contribution if you can.
How does The Big Issue help the homeless?
For over 25 years The Big Issue Group has strived to dismantle poverty through creating opportunity, in the process becoming one of the most recognised and trusted publishing brands in the UK.
But it’s not all about our award-winning magazine. We offer employment opportunities to people in poverty, have a multi-million pound social investment business supporting enterprises to drive social change, and support social shopping and ethical trade through our online shop.
Here are all the ways in which The Big Issue Group helps the homeless people of the UK:
The Big Issue
The Big Issue magazine launched in 1991 in response to the growing number of rough sleepers on the streets of London, by offering people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income through selling a magazine to the public.
Now 26 years on, our vendors come from a variety of backgrounds and face the myriad of problems associated with poverty and inequality. They buy the magazine or £1.25 each and sell it on for £2.50 – making each seller a micro-entrepreneur in their own right. It’s important that you take your copy of the magazine when you buy it because our vendors are working, not begging.
The award-winning magazine sold its 200 millionth copy in 2016 and is read by over 400,000 people across the UK and circulates 83,073 copies every week. We’ve helped 92,000 vendors earn £115 million.
Obviously, the coronavirus pandemic means that all of our vendors are temporarily off the streets – and so we need your support now more than ever.
You can buy one-off issues or digital subscriptions from The Big Issue app (available on the App Store or Google Play), take out a print subscription, or – for the first time in our history – pick up copy in selected retailers. Head to Morrisons, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, McColl’s, Co-op, Asda or WH Smith to grab the latest issue.
The Big Issue Invest
Established in 2005, Big Issue Invest helps dismantle poverty through financing the growth of sustainable social enterprises and charities across the UK. Big Issue Invest’s latest report shows the social investment arm has invested £10.7m in 68 mission-led organisations across the UK in the last financial year, making a current investment portfolio of £26.4m in 150 organsiations.
The Big Issue Foundation
Founded in 1995, The Big Issue Foundation is an independently funded registered charity, which works exclusively with Big Issue vendors, in areas such as employment, training, education, housing and healthcare, helping vendors connect with vital social and financial support to rebuild their own lives.
The Big Issue Foundation raises money for its work through individual giving, grant-making trusts, corporate sponsorship, and vendor day experiences – as well as many flagship fundraising events such as The Big London Night Walk, The Big Sleep Out and The Big Step Challenge.
The Big Issue Shop
The Big Issue Shop is the newest addition to The Big Issue group. The online platform is your chance to indulge in guilt-free retail therapy with a range of products that put people and planet first with accessible, ethical shopping.
Use your spending power for good with The Big Issue Shop because every purchase has a social echo, meaning your purchase will create a positive outcome somewhere across the world.
You’ll find everything from recycled cement bags turned into stylish laptop sleeves from Elephant Branded, funding fuel sustainable work in developing countries, to the award-winning From Babies with Love, which donates all profits to orphaned and abandoned children around the world.