It is now one week until vendors make their long-awaited return to their pitches and we would like to announce more details about the stringent safety measures we will be introducing to keep both vendors and their customers safe.
Up to 2,000 vendors will be back on their pitches in England, Scotland and Wales on July 6 for the first time in 15 weeks after The Big Issue took the decision to stop them selling the magazine on the streets on March 20 to protect them from Covid-19.
For their return, The Big Issue has set-out a health and safety plan of action which ensures that vendors are able to sell the magazine safely and customers are able to buy with confidence:
- Your local vendor might be selling in a slightly different location than normal to ensure the safety of the you, the general public and the vendor
- Vendors will be provided with PPE through generous contributions from partners and the public to their COVID-19 Appeal and donations from PPE supplier ViraxCare. All vendors will be given, face masks, visors, latex gloves and anti-bacterial gel
- Vendors have also been provided with new bags to house their magazines safely
- The move to cashless payments has been accelerated by investing in contactless card payment equipment. Moving as many vendors as possible to cashless payments through card readers and an existing partnership with iZettle will help to facilitate social distancing and also ensure vendors are financially included, now and in the future
- The Big Issue is doing everything it can to build stronger businesses for vendors coming out of this crisis. They are supporting vendors back to selling, with 10 free magazines to get them up and running
- We are increasing the cover price of the magazine to £3 to ensure vendors make more money from selling the magazine. Vendors will now buy the magazine for £1.50
- Vendors purchase magazines from frontline staff in offices around the country and will follow strict health & safety procedures in these offices including temperature testing
- Vendors will be supported by frontline staff who will adhere to strict health and safety procedures. Including but not exclusively working to split rotas and teams. They will maintain social distancing and work behind sneeze guards and offices will be fitted with a range of PPE and cleaned twice a day
- Vendors who are in the vulnerable category or become ill with COVID-19 will be supported both financially and emotionally, until a time when it is safe for them to return to selling
If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.
Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said: “First-off, we want to thank everyone who has supported us and our vendors along the journey we have been through, the generosity of the wonderful British public, our corporate partners, investees, other social enterprises and charities, celebrities, the media and many many more.
“These essential funds have meant that we have been able to support vendors while they have been unable to sell the magazine safely on the streets.
“We have undertaken a huge health and safety review and put in place a range of measures designed to ensure vendors are able to sell safely from July 6. We want to ensure the public feel 100 per cent safe when choosing to buy from our vendors and have followed the government COVID-19 health & safety guidelines.
“The Big Issue exists to offer a hand up, and in keeping with that spirit our vendors are passionate about getting back to earning their own income and being in control of their own finances and lives once again. We can’t wait to be back.”
Vendor Mike Danks, who usually sells the magazine in Finsbury Park or Sainsburys in Green Lanes, London, is keen to get back on his pitch. It’s a mood that is shared by vendors throughout the country.
He said: “The Big Issue has helped me to get back into socialising and meeting people and to get out and about. The staff have also helped me a great deal to sort out my life, which seems to have fallen a part for a while. I am excited to get out and about and meet people again and make contact.”
Fellow vendor Will Herbert, who usually sells outside Budgens on Upper Street, in Islington, London, added: “I miss my customers dearly. I had some really lovely customers and I can’t wait to see them. The Big Issue has provided us with the PPE kit to keep us all safe in this drastic situation we find ourselves in at the moment.”
Patrick Foster, trustee for The Big Issue Foundation, added: “It is of paramount importance that we protect our vendors and their customers alike as much as we can. Therefore, it has been brilliant to be able to facilitate a generous donation and ongoing discounted range of safety equipment including face masks and latex gloves through Viraxcare.
“It will ensure that the public can buy the magazine, a bastion of the British high street for 29 years, with confidence and the vendors can continue to earn a legitimate income in the safest circumstances possible.”