Big Issue Vendor

Compassionate, creative and resilient: young people’s pandemic response

Our free 24-page mini-magazine celebrates the ingenious, energetic and compassionate ways young people are supporting their communities through school social enterprise projects.

Compassionate, creative and imaginative responses to the Covid crisis by young people are highlighted in this week’s Big Issue magazine.

Our regular magazine includes a free 24-page supplement as a schools takeover, produced with the Social Enterprise Academy (SEA). It showcases incredible work by pupils to look after each other, their families and communities through the last year. The schools all run social enterprises, learning about social business skills and making a difference in the world.

We feature 15 schools selling the magazine to raise funds for their social enterprises. It also shows how SEA is expanding internationally, working with students as far afield as Egypt, Australia and Malaysia.

Despite fear, uncertainty, ill-health and loneliness caused by the pandemic, the children identified problems.  They then devised imaginative, energetic small social business projects to deal with them.

Compassionate business skills

They included creating a hot-drinks club to keep fellow pupils warm in the playground, and revitalising scrubland in school grounds for an outdoor classroom. They created a calm space in school for anyone feeling stressed, and care kits for isolating pupils and families.

SEA school pupils 2021
Social Enterprise Academy SEA Bargarran PS_Image1
Compassionate: Bargarran Primary pupils with their 'Little Box of Happiness' care packages

Other social enterprise projects focused on communities. These included growing and planting flowers to make a nicer environment for older residents, and teaching pupils how to forge friendships with elderly care home residents with dementia. Pupils sold “hand santa-tiser” at Christmas to fund food bank donations, and made and distributed food to homeless people.

Through SEA programmes, children learn social business skills to develop ideas, generate funds, manage, publicise and grow their own social enterprises.

Celebrity support

The SEA schools programmes all also embed the UN Sustainable Development Goals. And British rom-com movie legend Richard Curtis, celebrity advocate for the UN’s sustainable development goals, has written an exclusive column for the supplement. In it he describes why he has faith in the compassionate, creative and committed spirit of fairness in young people, such as the SEA pupils.

SEA schools 2021
SEA Schools Breadalbane Academy Primary3
Space to grow: Breadalbane Academy pupils transformed empty space for an outdoor classroom

Inspiring ideas

Russell Blackman, managing director of The Big Issue, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the Social Enterprise Academy for a third year. This year has been a particularly challenging year for students with school closures and social distancing in place.

“However, the pupils involved in the projects have shown us how their bright and bold ideas turn into innovative and profitable small social enterprises that really make a big difference in their local communities. It is inspirational!”

He added: “The sell-off was cancelled last year due to Covid-19. But this year pupils are back hosting sell-offs of the special edition of the magazine through their schools. They are making money for their projects and spreading the word about the important work of The Big Issue.”

Celebrating Scottish vendors’ return

“Big Issue vendors across Scotland have also returned to selling the magazine today,” Blackman continued. “Please look out for your local vendor and help kickstart their 2021 by buying a copy of the magazine. We would encourage anyone who doesn’t have a local vendor and wants to support our mission to help people in poverty improve their lives to buy a subscription to the magazine.”

SEA schools 2021
SEA schools 2021 Islay_Evie_Image2
Open for social business: Evie from Port Ellen school on Islay made a community shop in a phone box

The edition would not have been possible without supporters including:

Changeworks, South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), Emerald Works, British Council, Firstport, Social Enterprise Scotland, and the Scottish Government.

Additionally, the supplement is supported by The Barratt Foundation, which explains its work with homeless people through charity St Mungo’s, giving training and skills in gardening to support them.

The special edition will be available to buy from April 26. For more information or to locate your local vendor and buy an issue directly from them visit