The Big Issue is teaming up with the Jobcentre to help people into work

People stuck in long-term unemployment and current Big Issue vendors will get specialist support through the new initiative

People struggling to get into stable work in Middlesbrough are getting a hand up thanks to a new partnership between the town’s Jobcentre, The Big Issue and charity Recovery Connections.

The project supports currently unemployed people by setting them up to sell The Big Issue, ensuring they have an income, while also helping current vendors into further employment to develop new skills.

A DWP work coach supports a work club within Recovery Connections to support vendors with job applications – and to help them develop the self-confidence to really sell themselves to prospective employers.

Will Quince, Minister for Welfare Delivery, visited Recovery Connections to see the project first-hand. He was so impressed by the partnership that he said he would be looking at whether the model can be rolled out in other parts of the country.

“We know that most people want to work, but many lack the confidence or the experience needed to secure a job. Working with the Big Issue and Recovery Connections, our work coaches are delivering tailored support and training that is making a real difference to people’s lives.”

Some vendors have already successfully moved into further employment, as well as accessing the support services they need to help address other issues in their lives – which some didn’t have the confidence to do before being signing up to the initiative.

Big Issue founder Lord Bird said: “By uniting the expertise of local partners and Jobcentre Plus, The Big Issue is helping our vendors build on the skills they’ve learned selling the magazine, gain new qualifications, and walk the path to mainstream employment.


Since 1991 The Big Issue has sold more than 200,000,000 copies – helping the most vulnerable in society earn more than £115 million.

“I’ve got great expectations that this way of working will soon be helping vendors – old and new – across the country.”

The Big Issue and Jobcentre Plus are now keen to secure other third-party partners who can help them offer the support programme to more people in need.

Beth Thomas, head of partnerships and programmes at The Big Issue, said: “At The Big Issue, we know that there isn’t a single, textbook approach to helping a person to move forward with their life.

“That’s why this partnership, which looks at an individual’s specific needs before plotting out a path forward, has the potential to help both the long-term unemployed and Big Issue vendors overcome their problems, build their confidence, and move forward into work.

“This partnership also enables those who have been out of work for some time with a viable option to earn a living in a flexible way which improves their work-readiness. We look forward to being able to extend this opportunity to people across the UK in the not so distant future.”