Opinion

Merry Christmas from The Big Issue, and thank you for helping us change lives

Next year, The Big Issue vendors will be keeping a bigger share of each sale they make

Big Issue vendor

It's been a tough year for vendors, but we are here to help

The buzz never goes, not even after all this time.

When I see somebody stop and buy a copy of The Big Issue there is always a jolt. Stumbling upon it sometimes feels like observing a private ritual. There is frequently a nod, a smile, a look at the cover, an exchange of cash and change, more often now the touching of card reader, another nod and the deal is done.

At Christmas we have around 2,000 vendors across Britain. We try to sell a lot of magazines so that a lot of people will see their lot improved. Sales are coming, thankfully. Every single one matters.  

I stumbled upon a sale outside Waterstones on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow on a Tuesday afternoon two weeks before Christmas. It went much as described. It was really cold, during that atom-shaking frost. And this one sale was very moving because that moment, in the bitter winter, helped our vendor move towards whatever was his necessary goal that day. And the woman happily buying The Big Issue would feel good, and she was getting the magazine.

Journalists are frequently portrayed as tough-nut, weary cynics. They’re really not. They are mostly a mix of nosiness, sentimentality and ego. So I wanted to run up and ask her what she thought of it. I didn’t, of course.  

Christmas is a key time in publishing, a time to bulk up for the lean times that might lie ahead. This is compounded for The Big Issue, so we go great guns at this time of year. So much work goes into the production, staff right at the edges of creativity and fatigue, everybody on the front line flat out. Like much of the magazine industry we have moved to a digital focus. Our reporters break news across issues of social justice and housing that others won’t, they bring cost-of-living help and explainers, they’ll also hit with key cultural moments and guides and the sort of insider access that you’ll be gasping to share on socials. There is also quite a lot of jazz

The magazine sale has always been essential for our vendors, but increasingly it’s growing in its societal use as the cost of living engulfs. Like The Pogues, The Big Issue is not just for Christmas. Every day, all across the year, we are here for those who need us. 

And so, in the new year we are going to do more. This bumper Christmas edition costs £5. Vendors pay £2.50 for a copy and make £2.50 on each sale. The 50/50 split between The Big Issue and vendors is long established. But we can see we need to provide more of a hand up. Next week the cover price will revert to £4. In order that we help more post-Christmas, vendors will pay £1.75 for each copy and make £2.25 on every sale. This will continue through spring. Every sale, they will make more. 

This will work because of you. This Christmas, the first free of lockdowns and restrictions for three years, you have bought magazines in big numbers. You have supported vendors. For that, everybody at Big Issue thanks you. It’s been tricky and emotional these last few years. We know tough times are not over. We will do all we can, and we know you’re with us. Thank you. 

Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you. 

Paul McNamee is editor of the Big IssueRead more of his columns here. Follow him on Twitter

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.

To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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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