The future’s Electric

Most sales of Big Issue North are directly through our vendors but there are other ways to buy the magazine too, in places where there is no permanent seller

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For the past three weeks, Big Issue North has made a return to Blackpool. The magazine is now on sale at two locations in the heart of the town: the Old Electric and Upside Down Coffee Shop.

We hope that the partnership with both signals the start of us building a real presence in Blackpool. Since the end of nationwide lockdowns, when our vendors were able to return to the streets to sell, we have not had any vendor permanently based in the Lancashire town.

The Old Electric, originally a cinema before becoming a nightclub in recent years, became home to the Electric Sunshine Project (TESP) in 2020, following support from the Reaching Communities lottery fund. The space includes a theatre hall, meeting room, offices, sound studio and multi-purpose workshop areas, all of which can be used by the community.

TESP offers creative experiences, workshops, events, projects and shows to reduce barriers for children, families and adults to connect with their own creativity.

Community development worker Becky Doran-Brown says: “TESP aims to provide transformative creative experiences that can help to improve lives of Blackpool residents. Not only is being creative valuable to supporting individual wellbeing and socialisation, but we want to empower people to be contributors to the town’s economy through our new hub of creative opportunities.”

The project’s ambitions are similar to Big Issue North’s: empowering people to change their lives for the better. Doran-Brown was the one to recognise the synergy between the TESP’s visions and the purposes of Big Issue North.

“I’ve got a background working with homeless people and people who are vulnerably housed. My mother used to run New Life in Blackpool – a community church outreach project which supported people in need with food, daily essentials, clothes, haircuts, that sort of thing. The project ended due to her ill health, but I am working on getting it back up and running again.

“Blackpool is a town that has got people struggling. There are areas stricken with poverty. Housing is a real concern for a lot of people. The opportunity for people to earn an income selling Big Issue North is one we really welcome. We can now provide the public with an effortless way to support Big Issue North directly by popping into the Old Electric and buying a magazine from reception.”

Each week, around 350 people sell Big Issue North, visiting our regional offices to buy the magazine for £1.50 before selling it on the streets for £3.

Our vendors sell on agreed pitches in city centres and out-of-town areas across the North West, Yorkshire and Humber. We work with shopkeepers, city centre management teams and local agencies to agree pitch locations that our vendors can sell on. We are always on the lookout for new pitches and new partnerships to support our vendors to earn an income and to improve their lives.

But the magazine is also on sale in supermarkets and outlets such as the Old Electric and Upside Down Coffee Shop. In these cases, the revenue is used by Big Issue North to provide additional support to vendors.

Anyone who wants to sell Big Issue North can do so. We encourage anyone who needs income and additional support to contact us. People sell Big Issue North for a wide variety of reasons, and if you want to work with us, we want to work with you.

Big Issue North is on sale from the Old Electric’s reception and café. The Old Electric is open Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm (

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