Housing

Help homeless and vulnerable people with The Big Issue

Find out how you can make a difference and help homeless and vulnerable people today

The Big Issue supports vendors like Jon Gregg. Here's how you can help.

The Big Issue exists to help homeless and vulnerable people who are experiencing poverty across the UK – and there are many ways you can support them too.

One of the key ways we achieve this is through our network of vendors, many of whom are homeless or living in vulnerable circumstances. Selling the magazine gives them the opportunity to earn a legitimate income through working, not begging.

As the cost of living crisis grinds on, your support is more vital than ever.  Inquiries about becoming a seller increased by about 10% during 2022, figures published in the Big Issue Group annual impact report reveal. Last year, we worked with 3,637 vendors – 876 of whom came to us to sell for the first time. Overall, 7.4 million people in the UK were impacted by Big Issue Group’s systems of support or engaged with our products – an increase of 58% in a year.

To keep up this vital work, we need your help.

How can I help homeless and vulnerable people?

There are three key ways in which you can help us make a difference right now:

Subscribe to The Big Issue

A three-month subscription to our award-winning magazine will help support our vendors through this challenging time. In keeping with The Big Issue ethos, 50 per cent of net proceeds will go directly to supporting vendors during this crisis. 

Buy a Big Issue Winter Support Kit

As the weather turns cold, your support is more vital than ever. The Big Issue Winter Support Kit is a great way to help our vendors as the mercury dips.

For just £34.99, you’ll receive four copies of Big Issue Magazine – and a vendor will receive a Big Issue beanie to help them stay warm, a hot drink and sandwich (in partnership with Greggs), equipment to increase earnings through cashless transactions, and personalised support plan, including sales and employment training.

Make a financial contribution or support our campaigns

Making a financial contribution to The Big Issue is another way to support us and our vendors at this challenging time. 

If money’s tight, you can help us by lending your support to one of our vital campaigns.
There are 9 million renters in the UK living in poverty. With our End Housing Insecurity Now campaign, we’re calling on the Government to keep people in their homes by ending no fault evictions and increasing Universal Credit.

How can I help homeless people near me?

Just under 300,000 households in England needed support from local authorities because they were homeless or at risk of homelessness in March 2023 according to the latest government figures.

With rough sleepers now a commonplace sight, there are a number of ways you can help homeless people in your area.

rough sleeping
Thousands of people could be sleeping rough at Christmas, according to The Salvation Army. Image: born1945 / Flickr

Speak up

If you see someone on the streets, the simplest way to help is simply by speaking to the person.

The positive impact talking can have on mental health has been well-documented, as The Samaritans’ Small Talk Saves Lives campaign illustrated. As such, a simple greeting or asking ‘how are you?’ can go a long way.

Streetlink connects people living on the streets in England and Wales with local authority and outreach teams to get them support. It relies on members of the public sending an alert when they see someone sleeping rough.

Sending an alert is easy. You can do it on their website, thestreetlink.org.uk, via their mobile app, or by calling 0300 500 0914. It relaunched last month.

You’ll need to supply details of where and when you saw the person, along with a brief description of them.

Under 18 or in need of urgent help? Alert the authorities

The Streetlink service is for adult rough sleepers aged 18 and over. If you see someone you suspect is under 18, you should contact the police or your local authority.

That’s because anyone under the age of 18 is classed as vulnerable in the eyes of the law. As such, they are classed as being in priority need of housing by their local council, which has a duty to find them somewhere to sleep.

Similarly, if you think the person is in immediate danger or needs urgent care, you should call 999.

Help them become a Big Issue vendor

Being a Big Issue vendor helps homeless and vulnerable people to earn a living, develop new skills and become part of a community. Becoming a vendor is simple. We provide five free magazines so people can start earning straight away, along with ongoing support from the team.

Image: Frankie Stone

If you speak to someone on the streets that is interested in becoming a vendor, you can help by pointing them in the direction of their local distribution office for a coffee and a chat.

And of course, if they’re already a Big Issue vendor, you can buy a copy of the magazine. Our vendors buy the magazine for £2 and sell it for £4, meaning they make £2 on every issue sold. Over Christmas, the price of the Big Issue rises a little to allow every vendor to earn more on every sale. From today, the price will rise to £4.50 per edition, from the standard £4. Vendors will buy each copy for £2.25 and sell for £4.50, making an extra 25p each time.

Volunteer

There are various homeless organisations and charities in the UK, many of which rely on the support of volunteers to carry out some of their valuable work. You can find details of some of these below.

Which charities help homeless people?

There are a large number of homelessness charities working at both a local and national level within the UK.

These charities provide help and advice for people who are rough sleeping, in temporary, insecure or unsuitable accommodation, or at risk of becoming homeless.

The services offered vary from charity to charity, reflecting the fact that every homeless person has different needs.

Major UK homelessness charities include:

Crisis

Established in 1967, Crisis offers education, employment, housing and well-being services from centres in London, Newcastle, Oxford, Edinburgh and Merseyside. It also campaigns to find solutions to problems around homelessness in the UK.

Shelter

Shelter offers advice, information, representation and advocacy via an online support network, as well as advice and support services.

The charity also campaigns on issues around homelessness and the UK housing crisis.

Centrepoint

Centrepoint supports more than 9,200 young people aged 16-25 in London, Manchester, Yorkshire and the North East of England. It also provides more than 1,000 bed spaces for young people from the 60 accommodation services it runs in Sunderland, Bradford, Manchester, Barnsley and 14 London boroughs.

You can read more about these and other UK homelessness charities here.

Homeless charity Shelter staged a stunt and protest outside parliament on 19 July 2023 highlighting the slow progress of the Renters (Reform) Bill. Image: Imageplotter/Alamy Live News

What is the government doing to help homeless people?

The UK government is spending £2billion over three years in tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. That breaks down to around £640m a year as it looks to deliver on a Conservative manifesto promise to end rough sleeping by 2024.

As part of its strategy to achieve that goal, £500m will be spent on the Rough Sleeping Initiative over the next three years to offer 14,000 beds for rough sleepers and 3,000 staff to provide support. A further £200m will be spent on the Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme to provide 2,400 long-term supported homes for people with the most complex needs.


But Homeless Link, the national membership charity for frontline homelessness organisations, criticised the UK government for not uplifting funding to match rising inflation. The group found there were 39% fewer accommodation providers and 26% fewer bed spaces for people experiencing homelessness in England in 2021 compared to 2010 with funding cited as one of the main reasons for the decline.

How does The Big Issue help homeless people?

For over 25 years The Big Issue Group has strived to dismantle poverty through creating opportunity, in the process becoming one of the most recognised and trusted publishing brands in the UK.

But it’s not all about our award-winning magazine. We offer employment opportunities to people in poverty, have a multi-million pound social investment business supporting enterprises to drive social change, and support social shopping and ethical trade through our online shop.

Here are all the ways in which The Big Issue Group helps homeless people i the UK:

The Big Issue

The Big Issue magazine launched in 1991 in response to the growing number of rough sleepers on the streets of London, by offering people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income through selling a magazine to the public.

Now 32 years on, our vendors come from a variety of backgrounds and face the myriad of problems associated with poverty and inequality. They buy the magazine for £2 each and sell it on for £4 – making each seller a micro-entrepreneur in their own right. It’s important that you take your copy of the magazine when you buy it because our vendors are working, not begging.

Overall, a staggering £3.76 million was earned by our vendors in 2022. This incredible amount of money goes directly into the pockets of the most marginalised people in the country.

Since our launch, we’ve sold more than 220 million copies of the magazine. If you stacked all the magazines sold by vendors in the UK on top of each other, they’d stretch for 455 miles, well beyond the International Space Station.

The Big Issue Invest

A man making coffee
Cafe Van Gogh, supported by Big Issue Invest, offers training and employment to people who face barriers to work Image: ©Louise Haywood-Schiefer/lhschiefer.com/2022

Established in 2005, Big Issue Invest helps dismantle poverty through financing the growth of sustainable social enterprises and charities across the UK. Big Issue Invest’s latest report shows the social investment arm has invested £10.7m in 68 mission-led organisations across the UK in the last financial year, making a current investment portfolio of £26.4m in 150 organsiations.

Big Issue Recruit

Big Issue Recruit is a specialist recruitment service, dedicated to supporting people who face barriers to joining the workforce into sustainable employment. It is a person-centred service and free to candidates, supporting individuals pre-, during and post-employment.

On signing up, candidates are partnered with a personal job coach to understand their needs and goals, build confidence, skills and resilience and coach them through the selection process, to secure the roles that are suitable for them – meaning that employers can find the right candidate who is more likely to stay in the position for longer. You can find more information and read some of our success stories here.

The Big Issue Shop

The Big Issue Shop is your chance to indulge in guilt-free retail therapy with a range of products that put people and planet first with accessible, ethical shopping.

Use your spending power for good with The Big Issue Shop because every purchase has a social echo, meaning your purchase will create a positive outcome somewhere across the world. You’ll find everything from arty Christmas wrapping paper to stylish Leiho bamboo socks.

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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