Contactless but in touch

How your help during Covid allowed us to innovate for vendors

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It has now been over a year and a half since the first lockdown was introduced in England. Our vendors spent a third of that time unable to work due to restrictions – but despite facing greater challenges than ever before, Covid-19 has also brought us hope.

Since 2015, vendors’ sales have decreased year on year, with both vendors and customers citing the move towards a cashless society as a major barrier to sales. This was accelerated by Covid amid concerns about transmission through exchanging cash. This could have been devastating for our vendors but instead it drew public attention to the difficulties faced by people without access to digital banking.

As lockdown restrictions lifted, we repurposed our hardship fund, which had allowed us to provide financial aid to vendors while they were unable to sell, to provide everything they needed to return to work safely. This included hand sanitiser, PPE and also SumUp contactless payment devices and the photo ID required to operate them. For the first time, hundreds of our vendors were able to take card payments, helping them and their customers to stay safe but also to adapt to the demands of the digital economy.

We have also begun recruiting vendor champions – a group of people across the north harnessing their strengths, skills, and passions to help build a network of support to help vendors thrive. From Karima Francis, Blackpool-born singer-songwriter who helped us organise an online fundraising music festival, to Rochelle Charlton-Lainé, the teacher who organised a drive to make face masks for our vendors across schools, there are countless ways to help. If you are interested in getting involved, please email

Without your support, the challenges of the past 18 months would have been insurmountable. But thanks to you, they have also been a time of great success. To help us cotinue to support our vendors, there are several things you can do.

Firstly, and most importantly, you can continue to buy the magazine, either from your local vendor (, in Sainsbury’s, Co-Op, McColl’s or Booths, or online at (where you can also browse our fantastic merchandise) or at

You can make a donation by texting BINORTH to 70331 to give £3, 70970 to give £5 or 70191 to give £10, going to, phoning 0161 848 2430, or sending a cheque for the Big Issue North Trust to Big Issue North, 463 Stretford Road, Manchester, M16 9AB.

You can download Street News, our news app, from your phone’s app store. Street News gives you access to a vast range of stories from marginalised communities across the world, with articles covering housing, health, immigration, climate change and more. It’s free to download, and you can read up to five stories a month without paying a penny. But if you want unlimited access, all we ask is a monthly £5 subscription, which helps us produce Big Issue North magazine and support our vendors.

To learn more about what you’ve helped us to achieve during the pandemic, go to Thank you for your support.

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