It’s only a door, to begin with. There’s no doubt whatever about that. But the more you look, the more you’re drawn in. It’s a brightly coloured, simple opening to everything.
Since 2013 we’ve run the annual competition to have under-13s design one of The Big Issue Christmas covers. And each year the response knocks us sideways. It starts as a small trickle of envelopes and then becomes a glorious paper tsunami.
Each of the 1,100-plus entries from right across Britain this year has been lovingly crafted, with colouring pens and glitter and pencils and bits of felt and boundless, unquenchable imagination and enthusiasm.
Increasingly letters arrive from teachers and youth leaders explaining how the creation became a class activity that sparked debate about the realities of Christmas for people who go without. To choose one is almost impossible. Not just because it feels unfair, but because the ideas on the page are so good.
This year we were joined on the judging panel by Anna Bassi, the peerless editor of The Week Junior, and by incredible creator of new worlds, celebrated author Cressida Cowell. There was a simple brief. We asked that entries touch on the theme of Welcome, wherever that took the designs.
And it brought us right to the door of nine-year-old Lucy Norris. A bright door that offers simple relief – where the homeless are welcome; where the homeless become homed.
It’s an idea that makes the heart sing.
Congratulations, and thank you
Our winner Lucy, from Ware in Hertfordshire, says she was “amazed” when she heard that she’d won, and that people across the UK will be seeing her drawing on the cover of The Big Issue.
“I feel gobsmacked, amazed and very happy. When Mum told me the theme was ‘welcome’ I thought about the message welcome home. I wasn’t sure how to make it Christmassy, so I looked through old Christmas cards and saw the front door with a wreath hanging on it.
“I’d like to put across the message that nobody should be homeless, but especially not at Christmas time, which is meant to be a happy time. That’s why I crossed out the ‘less’ – because everyone should be able to feel like they have a home.
“It took me two days to do the finished drawing. I love drawing, I like to draw landscapes best.”
Mum, Emma, says she and Lucy’s dad, Oliver, and sister Abbie are all very proud.
“We were all surprised but very pleased and proud. Lucy hadn’t entered The Big Issue competition before, but she spotted it in the magazine I was reading. She doesn’t need any encouragement to draw. Especially if it delays having to do her maths homework!”
And Emma adds that she has local vendor Maria to thank for prompting her to encourage Lucy to enter.
“Our local vendor Maria who sells outside Tesco in Ware reminded me about it because she knows I have two girls, one who loves to draw!”
From tomorrow! Our annual kids Christmas cover.
This year's design was around the theme of WELCOME with the winning entry from 9-year-old Lucy Norris from Ware.
Stay tuned for a special gallery featuring ALL of our entries later this week pic.twitter.com/pgyWS149y3
— The Big Issue (@BigIssue) December 9, 2018
Big Issue editor Paul McNamee said that Lucy’s entry is “an idea that makes the heart sing”.
“We asked that entries touched on the theme of welcome, wherever that took the entries – and it brought us right to the door of nine-year-old Lucy Ware,” he said. “A bright door that offers simple relief, where the homeless are welcome.”
To every single person who entered, to parents, grandparents, teachers, carers, aunts, uncles and anybody else who spent time sticking, helping and stuffing envelopes and sending emails, we thank you and we salute you. You are part of The Big Issue, part of what we do and why we do it. You are helping Big Issue vendors out on the street make a living and help them lift themselves up as they work their way out of their perilous situation. You help make Christmas.
It was only a door, to begin with…
This week’s The Big Issue is available now, on the street, from our hard-working vendors up and down the UK. Alternatively, you can pick it up from The Big Issue Shop.