Numbers don’t lie

Thanks to readers and supporters, we’ve been able to make thousands of interventions this year to help our vendors

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Here at Big Issue North, we have spent the past couple of weeks deep in reflection. Tasked by our parent organisation, the Big Life group, to produce our own take on the Twelve Days of Christmas for a virtual advent calendar, we set about trying to produce a list of things we’ve done this year that we could use for the lyrics. The problem was that we’d just done too much!

Despite spending over four months in lockdown, our staff continued to work hard to help our vendors achieve their goals. Last year, we asked our vendors what their aspirations for 2020 were, and received answers as wide-ranging as moving into a new home to returning to education and beating an addiction. These dreams could have been dashed by the spread of Covid-19, yet our staff supported vendors in accomplishing these goals a fantastic 689 times. This figure, of course, is (unfortunately for our creative efforts, but fortunately for our vendors) far too high for the Twelve Days of Christmas!

Then there were our Covid-specific statistics, but again, we came up short of anything that could be reduced to a figure under thirteen. Instead, we found ourselves in the thousands – over 1,000 people donating almost £50,000 to our hardship fund,, resulting in thousands of payments to our vendors, and thousands of items of PPE sent into our offices (though here we allowed ourselves the creative license of including the line “700 face masks”!). Add that to the thousands of purchases of Big Issue North online at and in supermarkets, plus the thousands of visitors to our online shop,, resulting in over £20,000 of revenue – eight and a half times what we made in our second-most successful year – and you can see the difficulty we found ourselves in.

With the help of our colleagues in two fellow services, Big Life Homes and Community Voice, we eventually managed to piece something together. You can watch the video, alongside some incredibly poignant poetry by Sheffield vendor Bruno and the Big Busk at Home, our virtual music festival from June, at, but we wanted to give you a glimpse of the bigger goings-on behind the scenes because without you, none of them would have been possible.

Our new Vendor Champions scheme aims to harness the skills and enthusiasm of supporters who want to make their local community a great place to sell Big Issue North. But while we are very grateful to everyone who’s gone the extra mile for our vendors, it doesn’t take a lot to make a huge difference. Just by stopping to buy a magazine or calendar and have a chat with your local vendor, by sharing our social media posts or by mentioning our work to a friend, you have contributed to the successes we’ve enjoyed in what has been a challenging year.

When the UK first went into lockdown back in March, we were incredibly concerned about what the impact of the pandemic would be on our vendors. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but thanks to supporters like you, this has been a far better year for Big Issue North than we could ever have then imagined, so please, keep showing your support in any way you can – we couldn’t be more grateful.

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