The Big Issue has given more than £1 million to struggling vendors who normally sell the magazine but whose income disappeared overnight through successive Covid-19 lockdowns.
Through the 11 months and three long lockdowns, 2,110 vendors were helped with £1,062,000 in support, including cash payments and supermarket vouchers as well as helping vendors cover rent, bills and mobile phone payments, all thanks to the support of readers.
“At this most difficult of times for the Big Issue our readers, old and new, have come forward,” said Paul Cheal, chief executive of The Big Issue Group. “We have been able to distribute these funds – as cash or vouchers or other support needed – thanks to those who subscribed, donated and helped.”
The Big Issue was set up as a street paper to be sold by people who are homeless or vulnerably housed. Under the motto “a hand up not a hand out”, vendors buy the magazine for £1.50 from regional offices and sell it to the public for £3.
When the pandemic hit, The Big Issue set up a subscription model and interactive map so readers could continue to buy the magazine from their local seller. Readers took out subscriptions in their thousands and that support proved, and continues to prove, a lifeline for sellers.
As well as support in the form of cash and groceries, The Big Issue also supplied laptops to help vendors take online training courses, white goods like washing machines and freezers, and baby essentials for vendors with children.
“This is a significant moment,” Cheal contined. “In the darkest days of last March we, at The Big Issue, were unsure about the future, and about how we could help our vendors. And, now here we are.”
“There is still work to do. And we know our supporters will be with us every step,” he added.
Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.
Vendors have also been supported emotionally, with The Big Issue’s frontline team staying in touch through lockdown to check on their wellbeing.
“These essential funds have meant that we have been able to support vendors while they have been unable to sell the magazine on the streets,” Big Issue founder Lord John Bird said.
“The announcement of Britain’s roadmap out of lockdown has offered some hope for our vendors, but we still have a way to go until the high streets are as busy as they once were. By subscribing you can enable us to be there for our vendors, both now and in the future.”
Readers’ continued help will allow The Big Issue to keep supporting sellers through the struggle and uncertainty of the months ahead. As well as print and digital subscriptions, individual issues are available in The Big Issue Shop, and the digital edition of the magazine through The Big Issue app on the App Store and Google Play.
Lord Bird added: “We want to thank everyone who has supported us and our vendors along the journey we have been through and helped us to reach this magnificent milestone.”