By the time you read this, anything could have happened. Boris Johnson could have led an Anglo branch of the gilets jaunes on to Parliament Square to complain about the lack of Latin signs in petrol stations. Harry Redknapp could
be Britain’s supreme ruler after a bloodless coup driven by minor celebs surrounding Parliament wielding kangaroo penises. The Brexit negotiations could make sense and be resolved! Maybe not THAT ridiculous…
After the growing mania of 2017 it looked for a time that 2018 was starting to settle. But it became clear as we got to the fag-end of the year that settled actually meant not acknowledging reality. And so now everything returns to flux. Like before all the Earth’s continents were properly formed, except with gossipy WhatsApp groups.
Quietly, out beyond Westminster, people are trying to work their way through. At The Big Issue we know that government decisions and government stasis are causing increasing hardship. The stories of the punitive nature of Universal Credit rollout continue to come in. The lack of investment in local authorities continues to bite. Almost 130 public libraries were closed across Britain in the last year. The knock-on effect for so many people is huge – from those without internet access, to people who, without libraries, are isolated and alone, to, you know, people who want to read books.
One of the most important events The Big Issue ran in 2018 happened in Northampton late in November. It was an event promoting social trading. This was the idea of bringing together local organisations, big and small, to share ideas and services and fill the gaps that are opening like sinkholes in local authority provision. Its potential for growth is huge, and vital. Out in towns and villages across Britain there are thousands of groups – whether they are organised as social enterprises or as one-man bands, or established local businesses – who have come up with ideas to make things better in their local community.
Let’s stay together. We are all The Big Issue
Moving into 2019, which, unless something miraculous happens over Christmas will be just as uncertain as now, we really need these ideas and groups. And The Big Issue will be the needle and thread to, as our founder John Bird says, darn things together.
As we get to there, thanks to you all for being with The Big Issue in 2018. We exist to provide the men and women on the margins of society a means to work their way back up. But we couldn’t do that without you buying the magazine, taking it, enjoying it (or finding something that you want to argue with) and coming back every week to do the same.