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Big Issue sellers are seven times more likely to need food and fuel support this Christmas

Many Big Issue sellers are facing desperate times thanks to the cost of living crisis.

Big Issue vendor

Big Issue vendors are facing the hardest winter in a generation thanks to the cost of living crisis. Image: Louise Haywood Schiefer

The number of Big Issue sellers needing help with critical food and fuel payments has increased seven-fold this Christmas as soaring energy bills and double-digit inflation push people living in poverty into impossible decisions amid the cost of living crisis.

Big Issue Group founder and crossbench peer, Lord Bird, has appealed to the public to help the organisation support its vendors, who are often among the most marginalised people in the UK.

“This winter is the worst in 45 years, with nearly seven million in fuel poverty, soaring rents and rapidly rising food prices and now our vendors have biting cold and snow to contend with,” said Lord Bird. “Which is why we are urging people to support our vendors by buying a subscription to the magazine this Christmas or make a contribution through our Foundation.”

The Big Issue magazine was founded as a street paper in 1991 to allow people experiencing homelessness to earn an income and support themselves out of poverty. Vendors buy copies of the magazine at half the cover price and sell them on to the public, keeping the difference.

Big Issue Group set up subscriptions to the magazine as a response to the pandemic crisis, allowing customers to link regular payments to vendors in their area, but the stable income provided has made it just as important throughout the cost of living crisis as it was during lockdown.

Jim Hannah, 63, sells the magazine on Dove Street in Norwich. He said: “My pitch is completely empty in the mornings so I’m doing late morning and into the afternoon. Those online subscriptions are bringing me back up to somewhere where I was before the pandemic.

“The subscriptions have been a game-changer. If they hadn’t come in I don’t know what would have happened. Hopefully things will pick up at Christmas.”

Big Issue vendor Hugh Palmer sells outside St Paul’s underground station in central London. The 73-year-old explained: “People working from home has really hit me here… When people say they won’t be able to come next week, I tell them about the subscription, then they still get their magazine and I get half of it, and that’s a big advantage.”

Rising prices have meant millions of people across the UK are forced to choose between eating or heating across 2022. Almost 10 million people have faced food insecurity, nearly two million are at risk of financial destitution and more than 280,000 households are homeless in the UK, with experts warning of a sharp increase in homelessness as budgets are pushed to the limit.

“Our vendors rely on magazine sales for their income, but with freezing cold temperatures and the mounting financial pressures, the stable income provided by magazine subscriptions is more important than ever,” said Lord Bird. “Please think about giving a gift that keeps giving and buy a subscription to help someone out of the sticky stuff this Christmas.”

If you would like to support Big Issue vendors this Christmas, you can subscribe online or buy your loved one a gift subscription at bigissue.com/christmas. If you buy a subscription and allocate it to a vendor via the vendor map, the vendor receives 50 per cent of the net profits.

To make a contribution to the Big Issue Foundation, and to support the work the charity does with vendors, visit the Foundation section of the Big Issue website.

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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