How you can help our vendors

Copies of Big Issue North will now be on sale in branches of Sainsbury’s and McColl’s

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On Monday 23 March, shortly before Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19, staff at Big Issue North made the incredibly difficult decision to cease sale of the magazine on the street for the safety of our vendors and customers. This may last for weeks or even months, which means a disaster to people who rely on selling Big Issue North to earn an income.

As well as losing what for many is their only job for the foreseeable future, a third of our vendors are currently homeless, making it incredibly difficult for them to self-isolate. One in five also fall into high risk categories due to their age or existing health conditions, such as asthma, COPD or diabetes. A third have also relied on a foodbank or soup kitchen at some point, not only for food, but also for toiletries, cleaning products and fuel vouchers. This number is likely to rise as many vendors now face the prospect of destitution, but an increasing number of these services have been forced to close their doors, leaving our vendors without the support they so desperately need.

This is also likely to have a severe impact on the mental health of our vendors. Four in five people experiencing homelessness struggle with mental illness, and this crisis will add to their anxieties.

Thankfully, members of the public have come forward to offer their support. We have set up a hardship fund to provide financial support to our vendors, whether that’s securing them accommodation, paying their rent or bills, or covering the cost of essential shopping, and have received around £1,000 a day in donations. We have also seen an influx of people taking out subscriptions to Big Issue North and our new quarterly magazine, The New Issue, as well as buying physical and digital issues online.

However, we need to generate significantly more income in the weeks to come to be able to provide the support our vendors need. This will include securing accommodation for our vendors who are homeless, covering the cost of rent, bills and essential shopping for as long as they are unable to work, and enabling our frontline staff to continue to provide support remotely, from helping vendors to register with a GP or for Universal Credit to providing vital information and translation services for vendors who are not fluent in English or do not have access to the internet, television or radio. We need your help. Here are five things you can do today:

You will now also be able to pick up a copy of Big Issue North for £3 during your weekly shop. The magazine is now on sale in 382 McColl’s stores and 32 Sainsbury’s stores across the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, as well as at, with half of our proceeds going directly to the hardship fund.

If you would like to make a donation by an alternative means, or if you can offer any further support, please email or phone 0161 848 2430.

Thank you very much for your ongoing support at this difficult time.

Photo: Simon, who suffers from MS, usually sells in Harrogate. “I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have Big Issue North,” he says. Read about him in the Vendor Stories section here.

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Interact: Responses to How you can help our vendors

  • You can help Big Issue North vendors survive the COVID-19 pandemic – Brontë Schiltz
    14 May 2020 11:54
    […] 30/03/2020 […]
  • The future of... regional publishing: The Big Issue Norths Antonia Charlesworth on life after COVID-19 - Manchester Wire
    29 Apr 2020 08:01
    […] make. The rest allows us to continue to publish it. With our vendors unable to sell, we immediately established a hardship fund and found alternative sales models. You can now buy a digital issue, order a print copy online, […]
  • More ways to support Big Issue North vendors – Brontë Schiltz
    04 Apr 2020 14:14
    […] You can read my latest article for Big Issue North on how you can support our vendors through the COVID-19 pandemic here. […]

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