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How to volunteer with the Big Issue

This is everything you need to know about how to volunteer with the Big Issue whether you're an individual or organisation

Big Issue frontline staff

Frontline workers at Seven Sisters Road, London. Image: ©Louise Haywood-Schiefer/lhschiefer.com/2022

Do you want to make a positive impact and give back? Why not become a volunteer with Big Issue?

It is a wonderful way to develop your skills and meet new people while helping to make a difference to the lives of hundreds of Big Issue vendors across the country.

If you do have the time to spare, volunteering can have a remarkable impact on people’s lives. But it’s not entirely selfless – you’ll also learn a lot and gain skills that will help in your future career. 

Perhaps your entire team could benefit from getting involved with Big Issue. The Big Challenge gives organisations the opportunity to sell The Big Issue magazine in teams, with expert guidance from one of our very own vendors. 

If any of that sounds like it could be up your street, here’s how to volunteer with Big Issue, either as an individual or an organisation. 

How you can volunteer on the front line with Big Issue

Big Issue is looking for volunteers to help out in its frontline offices across the country. This is where we support our vendors directly, interacting with anyone affected by poverty and giving them an opportunity to earn a living by selling The Big Issue magazine.

It is a chance to work in a friendly team, make new friends and meet a diverse group of people. And through volunteering, you’ll help spread the joy and make an invaluable contribution to the work at Big Issue.

Some of the main tasks will be to cash handle and distribute magazines, responding to the various needs of vendors by signposting to relevant staff members, and to support staff to signpost and make referrals to appropriate support services.

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

You’ll gain valuable transferable skills and work experience, which you can use to boost your CV and career chances in the future. Training will be given in courses such as safeguarding vulnerable adults, general health and safety, data protection and more. 

If you are interested, you can find out more and apply by emailing volunteering@bigissue.com.

How your workplace can volunteer with Big Issue 

The Big Challenge is a great initiative for motivational team building while enhancing human connection, honing empathy and strengthening resilience.

Your employees will be given the opportunity to trade places with Big Issue vendors, discovering what it is like to be a Big Issue vendor for a day and experiencing first-hand some of the social barriers that Big Issue vendors face daily. 

There will be a briefing and distribution of volunteer jackets and magazines, and then each team will take to the streets to sell The Big Issue magazine!

It will raise awareness of the issues surrounding marginalisation, homelessness and poverty. The experience is inspiring and humbling, and it gives Big Issue vendors a platform to share their skills and expertise with your employees.

It really is the ultimate team building exercise, and organisations have reaped the benefits. 

Zoe, from the law firm Freshfields, said: “What a fantastic experience. It was humbling and eye opening and taught me so much which destroyed any misconceptions I had inherited from others.”

The event works best with around 20 people, with each split into four teams of five. Vendors are allocated a team each which they lead, and they are there to give advice. It is a challenging experience and helps teams to understand life as a Big Issue vendor. There will be a debrief and reflection, drawing out what your team has learned in the process. 

One participant at HSBC said: “People assumed I was homeless, mothers grabbed the hand of their kids and others clutched onto their bags. I felt this was an attack on my character, making me feel small and worthless. As my mood levels dropped it occurred to me that throughout the day I was simply viewing various forms of myself. Before this experience I too shunned The Big Issue’s sellers.”

Get in touch through our online form if you are interested in The Big Challenge. And good luck!

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

Support the Big Issue

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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