Today Big Issue vendor, Mark Siequien and former Big Issue vendor, Harry Bowyer, were presented with education bursaries by Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue and Ros Morpeth, Chief Executive of the National Extension College (NEC) in Trinity Square, Cambridge, to mark a unique partnership between the two organisations.
Set up to reach people and places the rest of the education system can’t, the NEC allows would-be learners to sign up for online courses. Based in Cambridge, the distance-learning charity provides course materials and tutors to help students through their work remotely, keeping in touch by email or Skype.
Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue Group, recently helped finance the work of the NEC via Impact Loans England, a £5 million lending scheme aimed at enabling social enterprises to access loan funding of between £20,000 and £150,000, launched in 2016. The programme is funded through the Growth Fund, which is managed by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, with funding from Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital.
The Cambridge-based education charity the National Extension College has helped thousands of adults and young people across the UK improve their skills and qualifications since it was set up in 1963. NEC delivers its courses online, enabling it to reach students who are unable to attend regular classes for whatever reason, including through illness, disability, or because they are in prison.
Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue and cross-bench peer, said: “It really is quite tremendous to be able to be here today and able to offer Mark and Harry the opportunity to access courses that will allow them to follow their passions. This will hopefully lead to positive outcomes for them both.”