Southampton FC stars become Big Issue vendors for a day

Premier League hotshots Nathan Redmond, Oriol Romeu, Manolo Gabbiadini and Florin Gardos donned the famous red tabard to have a go at selling The Big Issue's special-edition Saints magazine

Southampton FC footballers joined a team of Big Issue vendors to sell our special edition Saints magazine to launch a unique partnership between the two organisations, which aims to provide new opportunities for vendors at the heart of their local community.

Nathan Redmond, Oriol Romeu, Manolo Gabbiadini and Florin Gardos took up a different kind of pitch in Winchester town centre on Tuesday to try their hand at selling the magazine alongside local sellers Mark Morgan, Lee Barnes, Gary Jackson and Kev Collick.

The first-of-its-kind magazine is on sale this week across Southampton and the surrounding area – including Portswood, Lordshill, Bitterne, Ringwood, Lymington, Eastleigh, Romsey, Winchester, Salisbury and Isle of Wight (Newport, Ryde and Cowes) – and will be distributed as the official match-day programme at the club’s first game of the season versus Swansea City on Saturday, August 12. For those who live outside of this area it is available to buy from The Big Issue  Shop.

Big Issue vendor Lee with Southampton and England star Nathan Redmond.

As part of the initiative, Big Issue vendors in collaboration with The Big Issue Foundation will also be provided with the opportunity to enrol in an eight-week employability programme, run by Saints Foundation, 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.

Saints and England midfielder Nathan Redmond, said: “I could see how hard these guys have to work, they’re out in all weather. It’s not easy and I have huge respect for them. It was great to meet the guys, and be involved in a partnership where two great organisations like Southampton FC and the Big Issue can achieve so much together.”

Vendor Kev Collick with Saints striker Manolo Gabbiadini.

“It’s been amazing to meet the players, and the day has been full of lots of handshakes and smiles,” beamed Big Issue vendor Lee Barnes. “I have never sold as many Big Issues in such a short period of time. It’s been absolutely class. What we’ve done today has brought a lot of focus to the Big Issue and hopefully that focus will carry on throughout the partnership.

A lot of people don’t realise what we need to do to sell copies and it’s been great to open people’s eyes to what it takes

“I am excited to be selling on match day this Saturday and having met some of the players, it means even more to me now. It was great to see some of our players and the vendors working together so well today, and I look forward to having the vendors join our team on a more permanent basis in the future.”

Premier League star and Saints striker Oriol Romeu with seller Mark Morgan.

Big Issue seller Mark Morgan said: “I enjoyed it today. It was nerve-wracking but I’m glad I did it. The players made me feel at ease and that was a big part of it for me. The public loved it and explaining to them what it all means, about the partnership… it seemed to come across well. I’m looking forward to match day. It’s going to be a one-off experience, something I have never done before.”

It was great to be involved in a partnership where two great organisations can achieve so much together

Fellow vendor Kev Collick added: “It been amazing. It’s been great to have professional football players come and join us selling today. A lot of people don’t realise what we need to do to sell copies and it’s been great to open people’s eyes to what it takes and to raise awareness of the Big Issue in the local area.”

Vendor Gary Jackson with Saints and Romania defender Florin Gardos.

Greg Baker, Head of Saints Foundation and Community Partnerships at Southampton Football Club, said: ”We’re incredibly proud to partner with The Big Issue. The launch of a special edition magazine, which is on sale throughout the week and at Southampton’s Premier League match against Swansea City, marks just the start of our relationship, which will also see existing vendors undertake an employability programme, delivered by Saints Foundation, with the end goal of them gaining suitable and long-term employment at Southampton FC.”