Card sharp

Get creative over the coming weeks and enter our competition to design a Christmas card that will boost our vendors facing the cost of living crisis

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While enabling people to sell Big Issue North is the cornerstone of what we do, we are continuously looking at new ways to raise funds for our current and future vendors, particularly in the lead-up to Christmas.

Historically, the festive period can be among the more lucrative periods for our vendors. Their sales were bolstered by more people being out doing their Christmas shopping and they had seasonal items for sale to complement the magazine, such as our annual calendar.

This year, however, our vendors face an exceptionally challenging winter against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis. Increased utility, food and housing bills mean that not only are vendors feeling the pinch, but many of our customers too.

“No one has any money now and the first thing that people do when they are struggling is stop giving to other people, don’t they?” says Justin, a vendor who works in Manchester. “Sales aren’t great at the moment. I get by. I do what I can. But it’s hard. I am here every day on my pitch, out in all weathers, trying to make enough money.”

Difficult periods are not unfamiliar to our vendors. In 2021, sales were hit by the fall-out of the pandemic and the ever-changing nature of our high streets. Vendors consistently reported that they had fewer customers as town centres got quieter following offices and shops closing.

With the potential of fewer customers buying magazines from our vendors on the streets, we are always trying to reach new, broader audiences to support us, and find diverse ways that people can help with fundraising and support our vendors. One example of this is our new holiday card design competition.

We are looking for joyful, festive designs, ideally encouraging people to send some Big Issue North-themed cheer this Christmas. The competition is free to enter and open to everyone, whatever your age or experience. Your design can be in any medium, including digital design, cartoon, drawing, painting, collage or photography. All we ask is that you be creative!

The artists behind the winning designs will receive full design credit, a chance to share their designs in Big Issue North, and their cards will be on sale in our online shop, reaching people far and wide. All proceeds from the sales of the winning Christmas cards will raise much needed funds to support vendors like Justin.

Deadline for entries is 20 September. To submit, you can send your designs to Please tag us in your design on Instagram (@bigissuenorth), or post a copy to Big Issue North, 1st Floor, 463 Stretford Road, Manchester M16 9AB.

Last year, our online shop contributed to just over 5 per cent of our total fundraising. Those funds can be the difference between a vendor being able to afford their bills or going cold and hungry this winter.

Our shop is a key part of our fundraising efforts, enabling us to reach audiences beyond the North. Not only do we sell subscriptions and back issues online, but also products that are designed for us to help raise money. All proceeds from every sale go towards supporting the people who sell Big Issue North to change their lives for the better.

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