The Big Issue

The Big Issue

Posted on 11. Apr, 2010 by in UK

GP: We’re not talking Climate Change or the UK election, but a great concept that is a Win-Win for all concerned…. So next time you see a magazine or newspaper sold by a street vendor, buy one and help out…. Let us know of similar publications in other places.

The Big Issue exists to offer homeless and vulnerably housed people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income by selling a magazine to the general public. They believe in offering ‘a hand up, not a hand out’ and in enabling individuals to take control of their lives.
Inspired by a newspaper sold on the streets of New York called Street News, it was launched in 1991 in response to the growing number of rough sleepers on the streets of London.

The Big Issue and the 4 alternative UK editions are a business solution to a social problem. It’s a limited company employing staff to write, design and distribute a magazine that is sold by homeless or vulnerably housed people across England.

Alongside selling the magazine most vendors take part in The Big Life plan, a tailored programme of support to help vendors achieve their goals and move away from the streets for good. Vendors buy The Big Issue from one of our regional offices for between 85p and £1 and then sell it on established pitches in towns and cities across England for £1.70 and £2. They keep 50% of every magazine sale.

Selling The Big Issue gives homeless people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income. It also gives homeless people motivation and self-esteem. Vendors are not employed by The Big Issue, and we do not reimburse them for magazine which they fail to sell, hence each individual must manage their sales and finances carefully. These skills, along with the confidence and self-esteem they build through selling the magazine, are crucial in helping homeless people reintegrate into mainstream society.

Big Issue vendors are making a commitment to earn an income –  65% of vendors have never begged.

97% of vendors say they commit a lot less crime since they have been selling the magazine.

The Big Issue Foundation, a registered charity, exists to link vendors with the vital support and services which will help them address these issues and fulfill their potential.

They work exclusively with vendors, offering advice and referrals in four keys areas; housing, health, financial independence and aspirations.

Their definition of success is people making positive life changes.

To find out more about the Big Issue and how it is operates go to

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