The Big Issue and Southampton Football Club launch special edition magazine

As part of the unique, hugely exciting new partnership, Big Issue sellers will also be able to enrol in an employability programme run by the Saints Foundation and have the chance of future careers at the Premier League club.

The Big Issue and Southampton Football Club have launched a unique partnership which will see a special Southampton FC edition of the magazine sold by vendors in the Hampshire region, and distributed as the official match-day programme at the club’s first game of the season versus Swansea City on Saturday, August 12.

The first-of-its-kind programme (below) is jam-packed with unmissable Southampton exclusives. This includes: an interview with star striker Charlie Austin; a candid, reflective Letter To My Younger Self interview with legendary Saints’ FA Cup-winning former manager Lawrie McMenemy; a look at the new Premier League season with St Mary’s hero Francis Benali; fan messages from manager Mauricio Pellegrino and captain Steven Davis; an insight into the incredible, life-changing work of the Saints Foundation – and much more.

It will be available to buy from Big Issue sellers in Southampton and across the region, including Portswood, Lordshill, Bitterne, Ringwood, Lymington, Eastleigh, Romsey, Winchester, Salisbury and Isle of Wight (Newport, Ryde and Cowes), from Monday (August 7). If you can’t reach a vendor, you can purchase a copy via The Big Issue Shop.

The Big Issue special Southampton FC match-day edition
This special edition of The Big Issue was sold across Southampton and Hampshire, and at St Mary's Stadium on match-day

Also as part of the initiative, Big Issue vendors will be provided with the opportunity to enrol in an eight-week employability programme run by Saints Foundation, the club’s official charity, which will equip them with job-ready skills and offer work placements across the club. Upon completion of the course, vendors will then be able to apply for long-term appointments with Southampton Football Club.

Improving the lives of vulnerable adults and the poorest members of society is at the core of both Saints Foundation and The Big Issue’s missions – ‘Turning Potential into Excellence’ and, of course, our own ‘A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out’ mantra – and in coming together, we hope to create long-term job prospects for Big Issue vendors in the local area.

Big Issue vendors Lee Barnes and Mark Morgan meet Southampton star Jack Stephens at the club’s Staplewood Campus.

Earlier this week, our vendors Lee Barnes and Mark Morgan joined Southampton FC stars Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida at the club’s Staplewood Campus to celebrate the launch, while Nathan-Redmond, Oriol Romeu, Manolo Gabbiadini and Florin Gardos took to the streets to have a go selling the magazine.

This project shows that football can cut through in ways that other avenues can’t

“This is a tremendous project to be involved with,” said Paul McNamee, editor of The Big Issue. “It shows that Southampton FC, and Saints Foundation, share The Big Issue ideals of building new ways to allow the poorest in society to fight poverty, and work their way out of it.

“It shows that football can cut through in ways that other avenues can’t. It shows how The Big Issue is growing and in a unique position to do something like this with a Premier League club.”

We hope to see fans and residents alike get involved with the campaign to support local vendor

“Southampton is a club built around tradition and family, and this partnership is an exciting way to begin the new season and help drive further positive change amongst our community,” said Greg Baker, Head of Saints Foundation and Community Partnerships at Southampton Football Club.

Vendors Lee and Mark launch the unique partnership between The Big Issue and Southampton FC with Saints star Maya Yoshida.

“We’re delighted to help provide adults in and around the area with opportunities and skills they need to take the first step towards a fruitful career – whether that be with Southampton Football Club or elsewhere – and we hope to see fans and residents alike get involved with the campaign to support local vendors.”

Russell Blackman, Big Issue MD, added: “The joining forces of Saints Foundation and The Big Issue reflects our shared values and commitment to a more equal society, supporting those whose lives have been blighted by poverty and a lack of opportunity.  Saints Foundation do invaluable work supporting adults across the community, tackling social exclusion and raising aspirations.

“The Big Issue looks forward to developing a partnership that will look to harness the passion of the club and its fan base to inspire, support and further our mission to dismantle poverty through the creation of opportunity.”

The Big Issue special edition in association with Southampton FC will available to buy from official vendors across the Southampton and Hampshire area from Monday August 7. The magazine will cost £2.50.