The Royal College of Nursing sponsors Big Issue vendors’ red tabards

The Royal College of Nursing has entered into a unique three-year partnership with The Big Issue, sponsoring the famous red tabards worn by the vendors

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will be sponsoring the iconic red tabards worn by Big Issue vendors, as part of a new three-year partnership between the RCN and The Big Issue Group.

The sponsorship deal will see the RCN logo feature prominently on the tabards that the UK’s 1,500 Big Issue vendors wear when selling the award-winning weekly magazine.

We are enormously grateful to The Royal College of Nursing for sponsoring our iconic red tabards

“We believe in a hand up, not a hand out,” said Big Issue founder Lord Bird, pictured above with RCN chief executive Janet Davies and vendors Pat, left, and George. “Vendors buy The Big Issue magazine for £1.25 and sell it for £2.50, meaning each seller is a micro-entrepreneur who is working, not begging. The eye-catching red tabards are a vital part of the operation of their business, helping them to stand out to their customers.

“Therefore, we are enormously grateful to The Royal College of Nursing for sponsoring our iconic red tabards for the next three years and helping us to support our vendors across the UK.”

He continued: “I also want to offer my gratitude for RCN’s support of our corporate subscription service, and for helping to promote our very special shop. Together, we are working together to dismantle poverty.”

RCN chief executive Janet Davies and Big Issue vendors
The Royal College of Nursing will be sponsoring Big Issue vendor tabards

Janet Davies commented: “A nurse’s role focuses on maximising potential and enabling independence, which is why we believe supporting the work of The Big Issue is so relevant for us. Nursing staff are ready to play a part in bringing about a much-needed moment of change.

“Winter is fast approaching, and the the UK’s four governments and their NHS must agree a rapid plan to make routine care and treatment more easily available during these harsh months. They must redouble efforts to let those without a fixed address know they are able to register with a GP.

“The barriers to accessing healthcare – getting through the door of the NHS in any form – must not be underestimated. Too many do not have health concerns addressed and are repeatedly admitted to A&E at crisis point.”


If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.

For 25 years The Big Issue Group has strived to dismantle poverty and create opportunity, and in the process has become one of the most recognised brands in the UK. 

By partnering with The Big Issue Group, RCN are aligning themselves with one of the most well trusted social enterprises in the UK, furthering to demonstrate their firm commitment to a more equal society.

The barriers to accessing healthcare must not be underestimated

Aside from sponsoring the tabards that vendors wear, the RCN has also committed to support The Big Issue’s corporate subscription service and utilise their member base to help to promote the positive impact of The Big Issue Shop, the online shop selling products with a ‘social echo’.

Janet Davies with Big Issue vendors and John Bird
Janet Davies with vendors Pat, George and Big Issue founder John Bird

Photos: Elliott Franks