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'There’s no one out here': Big Issue sellers plead for support as streets empty ahead of Christmas

Big Issue sellers have made a plea for support as the streets empty and people stay in their homes to avoid Covid-19 at Christmas

Hugh McErlean who sells the Big Issue in Covent Garden has seen footfall drastically drop Image: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Big Issue sellers are urging the public to support them by buying the magazine as the streets empty of Christmas shoppers and commuters due to Covid.

While Christmas would usually be the busiest time of year for the self-employed magazine sellers, earning them much-needed income during the coldest and most difficult time of the year, customers are this year staying at home to avoid becoming infected with the new Omicron variant of coronavirus. 

“Our vendors have no choice but to ‘work from home’ on the streets, which are, once again, quieter and present less of an opportunity to earn their way out of trying circumstances to a more promising future,” said Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue.

People have been urged to scale back their Christmas socialising by chief medical officer Chris Whitty, who implored the public to only mix with others if absolutely necessary as Omicron surges.

“The rule change means sales are down, it’s been empty in the last few days and it should be the busiest time of year,” said “Suggs” Macklin, a Big Issue vendor, who sells the magazine in central London.

Another vendor, Sam Woodlock, added: “It’s not great just before Christmas. Since people have been told to work from home, they’re doing what they’re told and there’s no one out here. The fact is Big Issue vendors can’t work from home. If you can support your local vendor, please do.”

Thirty years after founding The Big Issue, Lord Bird is calling for urgent support for the magazine’s vendors, describing their livelihoods as “hanging on a precipice.”

To the great British public, Lord Bird said: “We would love you wonderful people to make buying The Big Issue a part of your yearly Christmas traditions, as much as buying the Christmas pudding, gifts for family and friends or decorating your Christmas tree are.”

“Please buy a copy of the magazine this week from your local vendor and if you can’t then please subscribe online and help someone living in poverty to lift themselves up and out.”

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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