Big Issue Vendor

Adam Smith, The Real Junk Food Project

It’s now five years since ex-professional chef Smith created The Real Junk Food Project to save waste food destined for landfill and turn it into delicious meals.

Since then, the movement has grown with pay-as-you-feel cafes and sharehouses all over the UK. In 2018, the project launched the first 24/7 social supermarket named Kindness in Wakefield and even hit the headlines after catering for 140 guests at a wedding before ending the year with the launch of Fuel for School.

The educational arm fed 10,000 children in Leeds, Bradford, Sunderland and Doncaster in December as well as teaching kids about food waste.

This year, Smith will be looking to work with the government’s newly appointed food waste champion Ben Elliot to slash the 10.2 million tonnes of grub chucked away annually in the UK.

Alan Mahon and Josh Littlejohn, Brewgooder

Launched in 2016, Edinburgh-based social enterprise Brewgooder has one simple mission – to provide clean water to one million people.

How do they do it? Through the power of craft beer. With the help of the team who put craft beer back on the map, Brewdog, which brews its beer at zero margin, founders Alan Mahon and Social Bite’s Josh Littlejohn began producing their first cans of Clean Water Lager.

Since then they’ve funded 60 clean water projects for 40,000 people in Malawi.

Last year saw the beer stocked in 481 Tesco stores across Britain, and with other outlets including Asda and Co-op also selling their product, they notched up sales of over one million cans of lager and half a million pints.

The listing will allow the team to extend their projects into Ghana this year, and continue on their mission to bring clean water to the world’s poorest areas. Cheers!

Lindsay Boswell, FareShare

Nobody should be going hungry in one of the world’s richest countries – we can all agree on that. But poverty and hunger have been spiralling in the UK.

Boswell, CEO of FareShare food waste charity, is a driving force in the fight to ensure everyone has access to healthy food: almost three quarters of a million people eat each week thanks to their work with 10,000 charities around the UK.

Reducing waste, redistributing anything that isn’t sold or eaten and directing it where it’s needed is what he has been doing with FareShare for the last decade. A growing field of work for FareShare which is set to increase this year is working with kids’ clubs to tackle holiday hunger.

And there was welcome news at the end of 2017 for their work when Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced £15m to create 250 million meals worth of food. This means that organisations that hold food, which are not able under current legislation to redistribute it, will from this year be able to make it available to FareShare and the charities they work with.

“We see this fund as principally for food producers and not the supermarkets,” Boswell explains. “Right now it actually costs farmers, manufacturers and packers a lot less to dump or recycle fresh, in-date food than to redistribute it to good causes – in part because of the cost of keeping the surplus food fit for human consumption. With the barriers to charitable food redistribution removed, businesses will no longer be penalised for doing the right thing with their food: using it to feed people.


Richard Copeland, The Wee Baker

Copeland, based in Glasgow, suffered a stroke a little over a year ago which left him paralysed. He was told he had permanently lost the ability to walk and to use his hands.

He found himself gripped by depression and anxiety, mourning his lost independence. It was at this point that he decided to take up baking as a form of therapy – and as he regained most of the function he was told was gone forever, the value of what he was doing started to become clear.

Learning to produce loaves from scratch didn’t just provide some respite for Richard – who goes by The Wee Baker moniker – but it improved his confidence.

Now he wants to take baking as rehabilitation to the masses. He crowdfunded nearly £3,000 to launch classes for stroke survivors and people with spinal injuries, and is currently in talks with a local hospital to kick the classes into gear.

Karma Cola

Karma Cola burst into existence in 2012, taking on fizzy drinks giant Coca-Cola with a Fairtrade, organic version of the drink.The team learned that the world drinks more than a million colas a minute, but none of the money went back to the people who discovered the nut that gives the drink its flavour.

Now the challenger brand ensures that kola nut producers in Sierra Leone get something back from the people who drink it, giving 3p from each bottle sold to their Karma Cola Foundation – sending young people to school, supporting an HIV theatre group and funding medical supplies during the Ebola epidemic.

Fiona Donaldson, Prep Table

Food poverty is increasingly affecting people who are in work – those who have income coming in but not enough to stretch as far as it needs to. Prep Table, based in Edinburgh, provides a place to eat good food and teaches people cooking skills so that they have the confidence to make quality meals to share with others.

The social enterprise is helping bring more people to the table in 2019 with funding from Big Issue Invest. “It’s about capturing people before they get to the bottom of the ladder,” says its founder Donaldson. “There is a lot out there for people who are really struggling and have no income, but there is going to be a growing number of people who will end up that way if nothing is done now to alleviate that.”