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Big Issue launches ‘next stage of our journey for vendors’ with Big Issue Changing Lives community interest company

"This new structure brings together the incredibly talented and dedicated teams that both support and fundraise for our vendors," said Big Issue founder Lord John Bird

Big Issue Foundation

The Big Issue Foundation was founded in 1995. Image: Big Issue

Big Issue Group has announced the “next stage of our journey for vendors” with the creation of the Big Issue Changing Lives community interest company (CIC), merging its frontline services supporting sellers of the magazine with Big Issue Foundation, the group’s former charitable arm.

With a 10% increase in the number of people selling the magazine in 2022, Big Issue Group has been forced to “think hard about the optimal way to support vendors”, said the chair of Big Issue Foundation.

The creation of the CIC involves merging the frontline sales operation, part of the Big Issue media business which supports the vendors selling the magazine, and Big Issue Foundation, Big Issue’s charity which provides frontline services on wellbeing, debt, mental health and employment support.

Lord Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said: “We are indebted to Big Issue Foundation, its trustees, CEOs and staff, past and present, for the fantastic commitment they have given to all of the vendors it has worked with and supported over the last 28 years. 

“It has provided us with an amazing platform with which to begin the next stage of our journey for vendors and others. This new structure brings together the incredibly talented and dedicated teams that both support and fundraise for our vendors.” 

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

Big Issue Foundation supported vendors for 28 years, launching in 1995. In 2022, it supported 1,174 vendors.

The new CIC, combining existing staff from the foundation and frontline services, is intended to help vendors adapt to rapid changes in society, such as cashless payments, changing work patterns and changing shopping patterns.

Big Issue vendors celebrated the role of the foundation in changing their lives. After Tony was threatened with eviction, the foundation offered him support to prevent it.

“I was also connected with an organisation to help me manage my money. I wouldn’t be here today if I was back on the streets without the support of the foundation,” said Tony.

Jamie, another vendor, said the foundation has helped him improve his situation.

“I have experienced homelessness on and off for decades. I was an addict because I was homeless, and drugs were a coping mechanism. But I didn’t want them to define the rest of my life,” he said.

“I started selling Big Issue a few years ago and have made progress with the support of the Foundation. Big Issue works for me on a day-to-day basis – it gives me motivation, confidence and money in my pocket.” 

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Alison Newman, Big Issue Foundation chair, said: “It has been an absolute privilege to lead the foundation for the last five years and I am indebted to my fellow trustees and staff, who have created a strong and effective organisation that has grown its services whilst making a profound difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society.  

“As trustees our responsibility is to steward the foundation to the best of our abilities. The landscape has changed significantly over recent years forcing us to think hard about the optimal way to support vendors.  

“After extensive conversations with Big Issue Group over recent months, we have agreed to move towards a new chapter for vendor support and we are proud that we pass the foundation on to the CIC in such good shape.”

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

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