Pupils become Big Issue vendors for the day in a special edition sell-off

Five children in Paisley took part in the sell-off of an exclusive magazine they themselves helped create, all to raise awareness of the big issue they care about in their communities

Pupils in Scotland today turned into enterprising Big Issue vendors as they took part in a sell off of a special edition of the magazine that they themselves helped create.

Five children from Mary Russell School in Paisley became Big Issue vendors and tried their hand at selling the magazine at Renfrewshire House.

They are just one of 14 schools across Scotland who are selling a special edition of The Big Issue magazine, out this week.

Paul McNamee, editor of The Big Issue, said: “It’s been really special to see the pupils from Mary Russell selling the magazine. It takes guts, persistence and sales techniques to sell The Big Issue – all of the pupils here today in Paisley have that.”

Lewis Fudge, a pupil at Mary Russell School, said: “It’s been really fun trying to sell the magazine to people. It’s probably been my favourite part – closing the deal and getting money so we can keep our breakfast club going at school.”

Pupil Lewis Fudge. Image: Jamie McFadyen

The Big Issue and Social Enterprise Academy partnered to produce the special edition of the magazine, holding a creative session with 15 pupils aged 9 to 16 from four schools at their editorial headquarters, based on Bath Street in Glasgow. The result was a special, social enterprise inspired supplement, running in all copies of the Scottish edition, with additional copies being sold by children in 14 schools across Scotland throughout the week.

I’m usually very shy and going up to people and asking them to buy the magazine without being shy has helped grow my confidence.

The SEA, founded in 2007, run the Social Enterprise Schools programme, which gives students a hands-on experience in running a business with a social purpose. The SEA has now supported over 1,000 schools across Scotland to set up pupil-led social enterprises.

Ebony Biggam, also a pupil at Mary Russell School, said: “I’m usually very shy and going up to people and asking them to buy the magazine without being shy has helped grow my confidence.”

Julie McCallum, Head Teacher at Mary Russell School in Renfrewshire, said that her pupils were thrilled to get the chance to help create this special ‘social enterprise’ edition of the Big Issue magazine and then experience life as a vendor selling copies at Renfrewshire Council headquarters.

Editor Paul McNamee and Neil McLean, chief executive of Social Enterprise Academy, with pupils Lewis Fudge, Ebony Biggam, Idres Wajid, Rachel King and Pauline Roy. Image: Jamie McFadyen

“They have gained great experience and confidence through setting up a social enterprise at the school and we are excited about developing this further to benefit our school and our local community,” she said.

Neil McLean, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise Academy, said: “Mary Russell School are a perfect example of the innovative pupils involved in our Social Enterprise Schools programme. They’ve done a fantastic job today in Paisley selling the magazine and we want to make sure every school in the country has the same opportunity to learn entrepreneurship by doing good in their community.

“I really hope that readers take away just how much of an asset these young people are to their communities. They are doing amazing work running social enterprises to tackle the issues they care about – this genuinely is pupil-led!

The Big Issue, sold by vendors to lift themselves out of poverty, is available to buy across the UK for £2.50. The special edition will be available to buy from March 18th-24th in the following schools:


  • Bellahouston Academy, Glasgow
  • Carmunnock Primary School, Glasgow
  • Fortrose Academy, Highlands & Islands
  • Inverness High School, Highlands & Islands
  • Kilpatrick School, West Dunbartonshire
  • Kinlochleven High School, Highlands & Islands
  • Mary Russell School, Renfrewshire
  • Masterton Primary School, Fife
  • Milton of Leys Primary School, Highlands & Islands
  • Pirie Park Primary School, Glasgow
  • Pitcoudie Primary School, Fife
  • St Albert’s Primary School, Glasgow
  • St Joseph’s Primary School, Glasgow
  • Tulliallan Primary School, Fife

Images: Jamie McFadyen