Big Issue Invest Trust strengthens its Board and embarks on new programme to support Big Issue vendors in the wake of Covid-19 crisis

The Big Issue Invest Trust (BIIT) has announced the appointment of four new Trustees to strengthen its Board as they embark on a new strategic direction in the wake of Covid- 19, with the aim of supporting The Big Issue’s 2,000 vendors across the UK in a time of crisis.

BIIT is the registered charitable arm of Big Issue Invest (BII), which exists to provide grants to charities and social enterprises focused on alleviating poverty and tackling inequality. It has been running a grants programme from July 2018 to date, which has seen it disburse £406,000 of grants to 24 organisations.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, on 20th March, The Big Issue (TBI) took the decision to safeguard its network of vendors by asking them to stop selling on streets across the whole of the UK. This was a crushing blow for the organisation and the 2,000 vulnerable magazine vendors who rely on selling the magazine to make a living.

The organisation moved quickly to adapt their business model in new and innovative ways, to offer a level of support to vendors through this crisis. They did this through an appeal to support the organisation via the purchase of subscriptions and digital copies and through generous financial contributions. The organisation recently announced that vendors were safe to return to selling the magazine on the streets on Monday 6th July.

In response to the impact of Covid-19, BIIT announced that it would be refocusing its efforts to support vendors. In addition, BIIT welcomed the appointment of Tim West, Lucy Findlay MBE, Rebecca Perlman and John Gilligan as Trustees to further bolster the charity’s expertise and direction at a critical time.

Tim is the founder editor and CEO of Pioneers Post and mission-focused marketing and social innovation company The Fable Bureau. Tim is a trustee with ECT Charity and a director of Big Issue Invest, and has served on a number of national programmes, advisory groups and awards panels – including the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers, the awards panel for UnLtd, and the UK social enterprise awards.

Tim said: “The speed and focus with which the Big Issue team has reimagined and reorganised to maintain support for its vendors, investees and communities during the past few months is remarkable. The Big Issue Invest Trust can play a key part in this important work, allowing individual donors, businesses and foundations to give ‘a hand up’ to this transformational enterprise at a time when it is most critical, and in the months and years ahead.”

Lucy Findlay MBE is the founding Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, the international social enterprise accreditation authority. She is publicly recognised as a key player in the UK social enterprise sector and over the last ten years has developed the Social Enterprise Mark from a regional project to an internationally available accreditation, providing a clear standard for the social enterprise sector and added social value.

Lucy said: “I’m delighted and privileged join the BIIT Board at such a crucial and challenging time.  Having been a long standing supporter, advocate and social enterprise leader, it’s great to see how a social enterprise can so quickly change its business model to face the challenges head on and keep on supporting those that are some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Rebecca is a senior corporate and charity law specialist at leading global law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills. She is the founder and Co-Chair of the firm’s impact investment and social finance practice – HSF Impact – which supports social entrepreneurs, impact investors and social finance intermediaries across the globe in fields such as education, energy, agribusiness, financial inclusion, climate change, consumer products, housing and healthcare.

Rebecca said “Through a phenomenal pivot in its business model, the Big Issue has continued to support its vendors, beneficiaries and communities against all odds during this hugely turbulent time. It’s a real honour to join the board of the Big Issue Invest Trust at this critical juncture and I look forward to contributing to the vital work of the Trust and the wider Big Issue Group.”

John Gilligan was a Corporate Finance Partner of Deloitte and latterly BDO for twenty years. He is the Director of the Oxford Saïd Finance Lab at Saïd Business School, a non-executive director and Investment Committee member of Big Issue Invest.

John said: “Like many people I was sucked in by Nigel Kershaw and John Bird’s relentless energy and can-do attitude.  Over the years I have taught business modules on The Big Issue with John, sat on investment committees with Nigel and have got to know numerous vendors out on the streets of Britain.  It is a big responsibility as we all look to the next 30 years of providing “a Hand Up not a Hand Out” to people who deserve our unconditional support.”

The Big Issue Group is working with The Big Issue Invest Trust and The Big Issue Foundation to identify the most effective means of supporting its vendors during this crisis and beyond.

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