The Big Issue has given more than £1 million to struggling vendors who normally sell the magazine but whose income disappeared overnight through successive Covid-19 lockdowns.
Through the 11 months and three long lockdowns, 2,110 vendors were helped with £1,062,000 in support, including cash payments and supermarket vouchers as well as helping vendors cover rent, bills and mobile phone payments, all thanks to the support of readers.
“At this most difficult of times for the Big Issue our readers, old and new, have come forward,” said Paul Cheal, chief executive of The Big Issue Group. “We have been able to distribute these funds – as cash or vouchers or other support needed – thanks to those who subscribed, donated and helped.”
The Big Issue was set up as a street paper to be sold by people who are homeless or vulnerably housed. Under the motto “a hand up not a hand out”, vendors buy the magazine for £1.50 from regional offices and sell it to the public for £3.
When the pandemic hit, The Big Issue set up a subscription model and interactive map so readers could continue to buy the magazine from their local seller. Readers took out subscriptions in their thousands and that support proved, and continues to prove, a lifeline for sellers.