The Big Issue is a social enterprise, launched 29 years ago by John Bird and Gordon Roddick in response to the growing number of rough sleepers on the streets of London. The two believed that the key to solving the problem of homelessness lay in helping people to help themselves, through vendors purchasing the magazine with their own money and selling them on to the public, at their own profit or loss.
As a result of the Coronavirus crisis, for the first time since launch, we had to take the difficult decision not to sell a magazine on the streets, and ask our vendors to stop selling for their own health and safety. We are acutely aware of the impact that this loss of earnings will have on vendors and our organisation as a whole. We have moved quickly to adapt our business model in new and innovative ways, to offer a level of support to our vendors through this crisis. We have done this through an appeal to support the organisation: selling subscriptions, digital copies or generous financial contributions. Of the money raised through the appeal, 50% of net proceeds will go to supporting vendors and 50% will go to the Big Issue to ensure we continue to be here for those that need us now and in the future.
The response to our appeal has been incredible and we would like to thank each and every one of you for your support.
With the support raised, our frontline teams are now working around the clock, to make contact, assess and support over 2,000 vendors with their financial and emotional needs. We have made contact with around 1000 vendors in the last week, with a small frontline team of staff. And we have begun to help vendors in the following ways:
- Through a mass dispersal of supermarket vouchers as an immediate response.
- We have paid to top up electric and gas keys where needed in order to keep vendors warm and fed
- We are working to provide ongoing social and emotional support at this challenging and lonely time. For many vendors this is an incredibly lonely time and they miss their customers and the daily interactions and relationships.
- A key part of our work is helping vendors to understand and access all of the support services available to them at this time, such as access to universal credit. This kind of support is more crucial now than ever before.
We are now starting to work on an individual basis to assess vendors ongoing needs and aiming to fulfil these as best we can. We are aiming to respond to all requests for assistance by vendors within 24 hours. The amount we can give to vendors will be based on the continued generous support from people like yourselves and we will continue to update you on our progress over the coming weeks and months through our site, new app and social channels as more news comes in.
From everyone at The Big Issue and our vendors, we wanted to say a heartfelt thank you for your support.
If you are a member of the public or a Big Issue vendor and you want to get in touch, you can do so in two ways:
- Phone – 0207 526 3200
- Email – email@example.com