The organisations, who have worked closely together since lockdown was announced, have today confirmed that to date The Big Issue staff have supported over 1,600 vendors across the UK and over £400,000 has been dispersed in the form of food vouchers, meter top-ups and other emergency aid to support vendors through this crisis. Not only have The Big Issue staff supported vendors with financial assistance, they have supported them emotionally through this lonely and difficult time.
The Big Issue, which offers homeless and vulnerably housed people across the UK a means by which to earn a legitimate income, took the decision to safeguard its network of vendors and the public by asking that they stop selling on streets across the whole of the UK with immediate effect on 20th March for the foreseeable future.
The organisation rapidly innovated, to provide readers with alternative ways to purchase the magazine and support vendors up and down the country in the face of adversity. An urgent appeal was launched asking the public to give to an appeal fund or to subscribe whilst vendors were unable to sell the magazine.
The Big Issue Group also launched an app and secured listings in major retailers, including Morrisons, Waitrose, WH Smith, Sainsbury’s, McColl’s and Co-op.
In addition, The Times newspaper group chose The Big Issue Foundation, as one of two recipients of a reader appeal during the crisis. A number of partners have also provided support throughout the crisis in the form of company-wide subscriptions or grant funding including Advent International, Permira, Crisis, Barratt Homes, Veritas Asset Management and many more.
Ritchie, 47, a Big Issue vendor who usually sells outside of M&S in Lincoln, said: “I would of been absolutely up a creek without a paddle without The Big Issue. I was waiting for my benefits coming through when my freezer stopped working. I had to throw all my food in the bin. I would have been in a really desperate situation again without the support and kindness from The Big Issue. It’s amazing what you have been doing and are doing to help out the vendors. It is a fantastic magazine. I love absolutely selling the magazine and I enjoy chatting to the people I meet every day. I can’t wait until we go back to selling.”
Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue said: “Since the end of March, we’ve been going all-out to completely change, and save The Big Issue during the Covid-19 crisis. We’ve come so far, with the generous support of the public, and our wonderful partners who have also supported us.
“These essential funds have meant that we have been able to support vendors while they have been unable to sell the magazine safely on the streets. However, the next stage will be supporting them to get them back to selling safely and we are working towards this happening in July. We and vendors still need continued support. By subscribing online you can help to ensure that we are able to support our vendors as they return to the streets.”
Alison Newman, Chair of the Board of Trustees The Big Issue Foundation, said: “The overwhelming response to our COVID-19 appeal has enabled us to provide additional support to Big Issue vendors during this critical time. We are so thankful to everyone whose generosity has made this happen. The outpouring of public support for our vendors has provided the hand up that they so needed.”
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, vendors still aren’t able to sell safely on the streets. We are working to get our vendors back selling safely. In the meantime you can support The Big Issue and our vendors by downloading the app, available on Apple Store and Google Play, subscribing online or buying the magazine from leading retailers, with half of net proceeds going directly to vendors. You can also support our vendors by donating through The Foundation.