Make a date

Buy our 2023 calendar and you’ll be supporting vendors in need this Christmas

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Big Issue North has partnered with Manchester eatery Escape to Freight Island for its 2023 calendar.

Featuring recipes from Escape to Freight Island’s popular traders, including Burgerism, Lucky Foot Chicken and Batard, the calendar is on sale now from your local vendor or our online shop, at just £7.

Located on Baring Street, amid the regeneration of Depot Mayfield, Escape to Freight Island’s industrial venue served as the backdrop for our 2023 calendar design. As part of the partnership, Big Issue North vendors were invited there to sample each of the featured recipes.

Gordon, a Big Issue North vendor based in Heaton Park, particularly loved the strawberry cheesecake recipe from American-style bakehouse Batard.

“It’s gorgeous. It’s absolutely amazing. You can really taste the strawberries – it’s the best cheesecake ever!”

Gordon is originally from Darlington and suffers from the lung condition COPD. He began selling the magazine 11 years ago after losing a job at an old people’s home and started up the pitch himself, convincing the store manager of Sainsbury’s to let him sell outside.

“I was struggling in Manchester for a while. I had a friend who sold the magazine and he said to me come and sell it. He kept on at me and I thought I would give it a go. I’m not homeless but I need the money and it keeps me busy. And at my age it would be hard to get another job.”

Now, he said, he is “like a member of staff at Sainsbury’s. I look after the shoppers’ dogs while they go inside, that kind of thing.”

Long-serving vendor Joe, who sells the magazine in Prestwich, loved Burgerism’s vegan smashed burger.

“That’s the best burger I’ve ever tasted! You wouldn’t know it wasn’t meat if you hadn’t been told. And the fries are beautiful!”

Joe has come a long way since Christmas 2020, when he became homeless after struggling with his mental health during lockdown.

“I ended up in a psychiatric hospital at one point. My depression got worse because I couldn’t sell the magazine. I also lost my flat. I just walked away from it because I was in a bad way. I ended up sleeping on the streets for a few nights, not long before Christmas.”

Joe credits Big Issue North with getting him back on his feet. He had support from the office to find new accommodation, and he is back working five days a week selling the magazine.

“I do it to keep me occupied. It stops me being depressed. I’m always happiest when selling the magazine. Talking to my customers makes me happy. I have loads of regulars who worry about me when I’m not there.”

Each week, around 350 people like Gordon and Joe sell Big Issue North, visiting our regional offices to buy magazines for £1.50 each before selling them on the streets for £3. Becoming a vendor is often a starting point for people struggling to earn an income. Seasonal items like our 2023 calendar work to bolster and support sales during a particularly challenging time of year for lots of our vendors.

Every penny raised from calendar sales either goes directly to our vendors or is reinvested in wider support for them. Whether you buy online or directly from a vendor, you’re doing your bit to make a difference to someone’s life and helping us to do more to support people to earn an income.

To find your nearest vendor, use our online tool: Alternatively, you can buy the calendar via our online store:

Photo: Joe (left) and Gordon enjoy food at Escape to Freight Island (Mark Wheeler)

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