Big Issue Vendor

Tier 4 ‘a devastating blow’ for Big Issue sellers on biggest week of the year

New Covid-19 restrictions have put London, south east England and Wales in Tier 4, meaning everyone is urged to stay home, with a huge impact on Big Issue sellers
An official vendor of the Big Issue street newspaper on the streets of Cambridge, England, UK.

Hundreds of Big Issue vendors are being forced off the streets as Tier 4 Covid-19 measures in London, south-east England and south Wales take effect.

Christmas week is traditionally the busiest week of the year for Big Issue sellers, but nearly 500 will be unable to sell the magazine on the street as the new strain of the Covid-19 virus caused governments around the UK to backtrack on Christmas plans.

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The newly created Tier 4 measures mean residents in all 32 boroughs of the English capital, the city of London and across the south-east of England have been told to stay home. All non-essential retail must also close while ‘Christmas bubbles’ are now limited to Christmas Day only and now comprise of only three households.

Meanwhile, planned level four measures originally set to be introduced from December 28 have been brought forward in Wales and mainland Scotland will go into a three-week lockdown from Boxing Day also affecting vendors sales. In other areas of the country, vendors remain on the streets.

If you can’t reach your regular vendor, you can buy The Big Issue’s bumper Christmas edition from The Big Issue Shop or subscribe to the magazine to receive copies throughout lockdown. You can also support your regular seller on our vendor map with 50 per cent of the net proceeds from your subscription going direct to the vendor — the same as when you buy the magazine directly from them.

Steve Taylor, 48, who sells the magazine outside Pret on Old Street, Shoreditch, East London, told The Big Issue that the Tier 4 announcement made over the weekend is a devastating blow.

“This lockdown has stuffed us right up. It’s usually the best week of the year for all vendors,” said Steve.

Stevie Taylor
Stevie Taylor hero
Steve Taylor

“It’s absolutely ruined me. This year as a whole has been a non-starter and this is the absolute cherry on the cake. I was thinking it was all too good to be true about Christmas and lo and behold everything has messed up.

“The city has been atrociously quiet because of Covid and I was hoping to be out this week to sell some magazines but there’s no chance of that now.”

People will have Christmas cards and presents that they won’t be able to give me so I can’t look forward to that. I have Christmas cards to give people too. It’s all a mess.

Long-time vendor David Martin, 59, who sells the magazine outside Tesco in Hammersmith, West London, is now gearing up to face the festive season alone and is heart-broken that lockdown means he won’t be able to wish his customers a happy Christmas.

“Because of Covid my sales would have been down but I was already getting sales and donations, people have been very generous this year so I’m going to lose quite a lot this week,” said Dave.  “And this week is our time of year where we do really well. I wish there was an excuse that means I could go to my pitch but I can’t do it, it’s against the law. 

Dave Martin My Pitch 1400 Louise Haywood-Schiefer
Tier 4 Covid-19 measures have hit London vendor Dave hard (Credit: Louise Haywood Schiefer)

“People will have Christmas cards and presents that they won’t be able to give me so I can’t look forward to that. I have Christmas cards to give people too. It’s all a mess.

“I have one or two cards from my customers which I will be keeping for Christmas Day so I have something to look forward to. If it weren’t for The Big Issue, I wouldn’t have got through the lockdowns this year. It’s thanks to them that I did.”