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The Big Issue at 30: Our story in numbers

Millions of magazine sales over 30 years have changed the lives of thousands of people. As we celebrate our 30th birthday, here’s our story in numbers

The Big Issue

Big Issue, big impact. Illustration: The Big Issue

Across the UK, millions of The Big Issue sales have changed the lives of people who needed a hand up.

But don’t take our word for it. The numbers speak for themselves.

As we turn 30, we reflect on the numbers showing what The Big Issue has done – and what’s still to do – to tackle inequality.

220,000,000

The Big Issue has sold 220million magazines since it was launched in 1991.

Since 1991 we have sold 220m magazines.

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.

If you laid out the magazines end to end they’d stretch 41,010 miles – that’s more than one and a half times around the world.

If you laid out the magazines next to each other they’d cover 1.375m hectares – blanketing  Jamaica or more than half of Wales.

The Big Issue is printed on sustainable paper, so although 220m is a lot of magazines, it also means forests of trees have been planted.

£6,000,000

Each year vendors earn around £6m (that’s collectively, not individually).

Vendors buy copies of The Big Issue for £1.50 and sell the magazine for £3, keeping the difference. This is how The Big Issue has operated since day one and it continues to help thousands of vendors earn a legitimate income and work their way out of poverty.

£144,000,000

We’ve helped vendors put £144m into their pockets since 1991.

We’ve helped vendors put £144m into their pockets since 1991.

£432,000,000

An Australian study found that money earned by vendors saved their government three times the amount. Factoring this up, The Big Issue has saved the UK economy £432m.

£1,300,000

During Covid we have helped support vendors to the tune of £1.3million thanks to donations and subscriptions.

During lockdown with your help we were able to give financial support to vendors to the tune of £1.3m thanks to the subscriptions you took out and other donations.

4,100

We now work with 4,100 vendors across the UK every year.

105,000

Since 1991 more than 105,000 people have been given a hand up by becoming a Big Issue vendor.

That number of people is equivalent to the population of Carlisle or Maidstone or Stockport – or the entire Caribbean island of Aruba.

4,000,000

UK vendors sell around 4million copies in total each year.

Each year in the UK vendors sell around four million magazines (pre-pandemic).

4,600,000

There are now more than 100 street papers inspired by The Big Issue in 35 countries.

There are now more than 100 street papers inspired by The Big Issue in 35 countries, published in 25 languages with a readership of 4.6m.

200

Since 2005 Big Issue Invest has worked with more than 200 organisations.

They offer investment of between £20,000 and £3m to social enterprises and charities.

£250,600,000

Big Issue Invest currently manages or advises on £250m worth of social funds.

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.
Vendor martin Hawes

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