Today up to 2,000 Big Issue vendors across England, Scotland and Wales are making their eager return to their pitches, ready to sell the magazine for the first time since lockdown began in March.
The Big Issue has taken measures including the provision of extensive PPE and contactless card payment equipment, as well as introducing stringent health and safety procedures in all distribution offices to ensure the safety of vendors and customers.
And, as you might have heard on our podcast, there’s one thing our vendors all agree they’ve missed most: their customers.
Vendor Jim Pelham, who usually sells in the magazine outside Cross Key’s Shopping Centre in Salisbury, said: “I have missed the people for sure. The social interaction that I actually thrive on, the basic day to day camaraderie. I miss them.
“Going back to sell the magazine will help. Going out to work, especially something where you essentially have got to think about it like a businessman, completely changes your view on things.”
We took the decision to safeguard its network of vendors and the public by asking that they stop selling on streets across the whole of the UK with immediate effect on March 20. But as lockdown restrictions ease, it’s now possible for vendors to safely get back to selling for the first time in 15 weeks.
Big Issue founder Lord John Bird said: “It fills us with pride and joy to announce that Big Issue vendors are back out selling as of today. We want to thank everyone who has supported us and vendors over the past 15 weeks. It’s a simple fact that we couldn’t have got through such a perilous time without the overwhelming generosity everyone has shown us.
“Please look out for your local vendor from today and buy a copy of the magazine. You may have to look twice, as they are coming back with a slightly new look. After carrying out a rigorous health & safety review, we have put in place a range of measures designed to ensure vendors are able to sell safely. As a result, you will see that vendors now have visors, latex gloves, face masks, anti-bacterial gel, bags to carry the magazines safely and will be carrying contactless readers where possible.
“We would encourage anyone who wants to support us who doesn’t have a local vendor or can’t buy from a local vendor to support The Big Issue’s mission to help people in poverty improve their lives, by buying a subscription to the magazine. We’ve have missed you all and we are so pleased to be back.”
I’m so happy to be going back you wouldn’t believe it
Every vendor will get 10 free magazines to help kick-start sales. Our cover price is now £3 – after their first 10, vendors will buy copies for £1.50 and sell them for £3, keeping the difference. We’ll still be selling in shops, ensuring retail outlets don’t clash with vendors’ pitches. And sales through subscriptions and the app will ensure we can continue to support vendors who need extra financial assistance.
Pamela Clark, who sells the magazine at Blackington Road Co-op or WHSmith on George Street in Brighton, said she has desperately missed conversations with the public.
She added: “So many people have asked me when we’re coming back. I am so happy to be going back, you wouldn’t believe it. I got all tingly when I was told! I can’t wait to see everybody. It’ll be so good to tell everybody we’re back with a vengeance! I can’t wait.”
Big Issue vendors need your support now more than ever. Pick up your copy of the magazine today!