Opinion

Paul McNamee: Why we want you to take The Big Issue

"If you give money and leave the magazine, you’re making the seller into a beggar"

As a message, it bears repeating. Always take the magazine.

It is absolutely core to The Big Issue. And messages are passed from source through a thousand different social tributaries. Always take the magazine.

Last week we launched a new campaign with this message. A film, fronted by gentleman and comedian Seann Walsh, set about busting myths around The Big Issue, reaffirming why we’re here and building to the same conclusion – always take the magazine.

The Big Issue was established just shy of 25 years ago – and you’re going to be hearing about THAT landmark very soon.

The model was simple; they’d buy The Big Issue for half the cover price and sell for the cover price. Their earnings were the gap in between

John Bird and Gordon Roddick wanted to create a device that allowed the homeless, the poorest, the dispossessed – all of those people lost in the shadows that society ignored – to earn their own living. To work their way back into society. The model was simple; they’d buy The Big Issue for half the cover price and sell for the cover price. Their earnings were the gap in between. It was a social revolution.

Earlier this year we marked our 200 millionth sale in Britain. That means tens of thousands of people took the bold step to look up and say, enough, I’m going to take back control. They earned millions. They made themselves individual businesses – a street army of entrepreneurs.

Over time, what is between the pages has developed. We produce a magazine that we want you to take because of what you’re going to get inside. But of course, there is a simple desire sometimes just to help the man on the street. That desire can trump everything else. It doesn’t come from a bad place.

But this is why we encourage you to always take the magazine. If you give money and leave the mag, you’re making the seller into a beggar. Vendors have the focus to stand outside come what may, to be brave enough to face whatever may come. All that is taken away by the small, albeit kindly, gesture in refusing to take the magazine.

The Big Issue men and women out there are working. They are looking for a hand up, not a handout. It leads to more than the money, which is pretty vital, granted. And that is why to refuse the trade really helps nobody.

The Big Issue is not exactly Nanny McPhee, though we’ll be here as long as we’re needed. We don’t fix things. We supply the means for people to fix things themselves. And you’re part of that. You, our reader, provide the final important piece of the whole. So long as you’re there, you’ll help the vendors move up.

But to do that, you always, always need to take the magazine.

If you have any comments please email me at paul.mcnamee@bigissue.com, tweet @pauldmcnamee, or send a letter to The Big Issue, 43 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 1HW

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If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
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