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Press Release

Big Issue Group has seen seven times more vendors needing critical fuel and food support this winter

Lord Bird, the Big Issue Group founder, calls on public to subscribe or make a contribution to support Big Issue vendors through the sub-zero Christmas temperatures and cost-of-living crisis

Big Issue vendor

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

Today (Thursday, 15th December) the Big Issue Group founder and crossbench peer, Lord Bird, has appealed to the public to help the organisation support vendors, amid freezing cold temperatures this Christmas, the worsening cost-of-living crisis and reports of nearly seven million living in fuel poverty[1].

With the organisation reporting that it has seen seven times more Big Issue vendors needing critical fuel and food support this winter, it has renewed its call to the public to support by subscribing or making a contribution through the Big Issue Foundation to help vendors through this uncertain time.

The country is living in a time of extreme need and crisis, with rent and energy prices soaring, and food prices the highest they’ve been in 45 years[2], with 9.7 million adults experiencing food insecurity[3] this year, and a further 1.7 million people facing financial destitution, or even worse, homelessness[4] – having a stable income from selling the magazine is more important than ever for Big Issue vendors.

Big Issue Group set up subscriptions to the magazine as a response to the pandemic crisis, but now during freezing cold temperatures, the pervasive cost-of-living crisis, and with millions living in fuel poverty, the stable income provided by magazine subscriptions has made it just as important as it was during lockdown.

Jim Hannah, 63, who sells the magazine on Dove Street in Norwich, said: “My pitch is completely empty in the mornings so I’m doing late morning and into the afternoon. Those online subscriptions are bringing me back up to somewhere where I was before the pandemic.

Jim added: The subscriptions have been a game-changer. If they hadn’t come in I don’t know what would have happened. Hopefully things will pick up at Christmas.”

73-year-old Big Issue vendor, Hugh Palmer, who sells outside St Pauls underground in London, explained: “People working from home has really hit me here.” He added “the thing about subscriptions is they’re really important. When people say they won’t be able to come next week, I tell them about the subscription, then they still get their magazine and I get half of it, and that’s a big advantage.”

James Frost, who has sold the Big Issue for 16 years on his pitch on Ilfracombe High Street, Devon, spoke about how important subscriptions have been to him: “It helps because it’s £12.50 each time people subscribe for three months. It’s a tiny bit of money and it helps a lot.”

James is hoping to make some money for his family this Christmas: “Hopefully I’ll get some sales. I’m just doing what I can, to help a little way towards Christmas.”

The Big Issue Group and its dedicated Frontline sales and support teams are working hard to ensure all its vendors are looked after through this extremely difficult time. The organisation has a range of key services available to support vendors through the crisis, including supporting them with access to food and fuel support and vouchers.

With 282,000 households classed as homeless or facing homeless currently,[5] as well as the warning that homelessness is likely to rise a third higher than 2019 levels in the next two years[6], the work of the Big Issue Group, is more important than ever. 

Lord Bird, Founder of Big Issue Group and Crossbench Peer, said: “This winter is the worst in 45 years, with nearly seven million in fuel poverty, soaring rents and rapidly rising food prices and now our vendors have biting cold and snow to contend with. Which is why we are urging people to support our vendors by buying a subscription to the magazine this Christmas or make a contribution through our Foundation.

“Our vendors rely on magazine sales for their income, but with freezing cold temperatures and the mounting financial pressures, the stable income provided by magazine subscriptions is more important than ever. Please think about giving a gift that keeps giving and buy a subscription to help someone out of the sticky stuff this Christmas.”

If you would like to support Big Issue vendors this Christmas, you can subscribe online or buy your loved one a gift subscription at bigissue.com/christmas. If you buy a subscription and allocate it to a vendor via the vendor map, the vendor receives 50% of the net profits.

To make a contribution to the Big Issue Foundation, and to support the work we do with vendors, please visit: https://www.bigissue.com/big-issue-foundation/donate-big-issue-foundation/


[1] https://www.nea.org.uk/energy-crisis/

[2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/consumerpriceinflation/october2022

[3] https://www.foodfoundation.org.uk/news/food-prices-tracking-october-update

[4] https://www.crisis.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/cost-of-living-crisis-threatens-homelessness-surge-with-the-lowest-income-households-spending-133-of-their-monthly-income-on-rent-energy-and-bills/

[5] https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/homelessness-knowledge-hub/homelessness-monitor/england/the-homelessness-monitor-england-2022/

[6] https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/homelessness-knowledge-hub/homelessness-monitor/england/the-homelessness-monitor-england-2022/

National Vendor Week 2024

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