In association with Citroën

The Big Issue Changemakers of 2023: Employment

The job market is facing uncertain times – these are the people fighting to get a better deal for all in 2023

Cafe Van Gogh

Cafe Van Gogh. Photo: The Big Issue

Association from Citroën

The world of work continues to be one of the most pressing political issues of 2023. Here are The Big Issue’s Changemakers championing workers’ rights and pushing for a more equal society.

Find the rest of the series on the links below and pick up the magazine from your local Big Issue vendor.

Mick Lynch 

“People are fed up with having no rights in the workplace,” Lynch told The Big Issue. “They are fed up with low pay and they’re also fed up of billionaires raking in profits.” Mick Lynch has been the figurehead and even-handed spokesperson for workers across Britain who feel left behind. Seen by some as a divisive figure, he’s nevertheless changed attitudes to striking workers. In his position as secretary general of the RMT he has attracted praise for tackling hostile narratives with levity and wit. “We’re getting a wave of public sympathy and we want to see that rolled into a campaign to get a fair deal for all,” Lynch said. As we move into 2023, his position as an important leader beyond his own union grows.

Mick Lynch
Mick Lynch. Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Unite Hospitality 

“This is for every worker who ever had to choose between walking home in the dark or spending two hours wages on a taxi home,” Unite Hospitality said. The union’s campaign, ‘Get Me Home Safely’, calls for legislation to be extended to make safe transport policies mandatory in the workplace. They want free transport home for staff to be a prerequisite for businesses seeking to hold a liquor licence. Nearly six in 10 workers report their employers have never provided them with safe transport. Unite’s members are campaigning to change this, and made great strides last year, with eight local authorities now backing them. 

Nickel Support CIC

Nickel Support is a community interest company supporting neurodivergent adults and adults with learning disabilities. Employment is a key focus, but the organisation supports trainees in all aspects of their lives. It works with over 100 trainees per week. After its original hub in Carshalton was no longer large enough to meet demand, investment from Big Issue Invest will help Nickel to refurbish and equip a new premises in Cheam.

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Project Search 

Only 5.1 per cent of people in England with a learning disability who are known to local authorities go on to secure paid employment, compared to 80 per cent of their peers. David Bridges, programme manager of the Devon-based Project Search, believes that this is a massive waste of talent – that people simply need adequate support to beable to put their skills to use. Thus, Project Search was born: a training programme putting people with significant learning disabilities in full-time paid work in the NHS. People with learning disabilities are empowered to enter public life, have their skills valued and their confidence increased – while also doing their bit to ease the NHS staffing crisis.  

Cafe Van Gogh 

Set in a stunning building in the grounds of an old church, this South London social enterprise, which is backed by Big Issue Invest, cooks up delectable vegan dishes using locally foraged and community-grown veg. It also trains and offers a place of work to some of the most marginalised in society, including people with learning disabilities, special needs, mental health problems and ex-offenders. All profits go back into the business to run programmes, including classes in cooking on a budget for low-income families. Cafe Van Gogh founder Steve Clarke is trying to raise £22,000 for a new kitchen which would allow him to double the workforce

4 Day Week Campaign 

“Together we can build a society where we work to live, rather than live to work.” This is the rallying cry of the 4 Day Week Campaign, a campaign set up to push for a four-day working week capped at 32 hours – with no loss of pay – to become standardised across the UK. Last year saw the campaign group reach a milestone of 100 employers in the UK accredited through them who agreed to implement a four-day week – and the campaign wants to ensure that this becomes the new normal across the UK, creating fairer work for all.  

Kalayaan 

Kalayaan.
Kalayaan. Photo: Avril Sharp/Kalayaan

In 2022, Kalayaan marked 10 years of campaigning for changes to the tied visa scheme, which places restrictions on migrant domestic workers that leave them vulnerable to exploitation. They advocate for these workers to receive basic but fundamental rights at work.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.

To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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