More than a magazine…

Our regional offices and staff provide support with all aspects of being a vendor and other areas of their lives

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Creating opportunities and means for these changes underpins everything we do.

The Big Issue was created in response to the growing number of people facing poverty across the country. It did this by offering them the opportunity to earn a legitimate income by becoming a vendor and selling the magazine.

At Big Issue North, we work directly with vendors based across the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber. For many, becoming a vendor is a starting point for creating positive, impactful changes in their life.

Our regional offices in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, and Sheffield provide support with all aspects of being a vendor and other areas of their lives. This includes housing, access to services, financial guidance, healthcare, and skills training. Our support helps vendors make the most of the financial independence they begin to gain when they sell the magazine.

Sometimes, how we support our vendors may seem arbitrary. For example, among the most common requests for help is for assistance with opening a bank account. This may sound like simple administration but, to people like our vendors, they present mountains. These processes demand a level of English or digital literacy, and formal documentation such as proof of address or photographic identification. These can be serious barriers to progress.

It may be surprising that something negligible like not having a bank account can be enough to keep someone trapped in a difficult situation. Think about it: not having a bank card or account can stop someone from gaining employment because there is nowhere to send a paycheque. Ironically, it will also stop someone from receiving benefits for unemployment. It can stop housing applications or rental agreements. It can even stop someone from buying groceries and essentials as we move towards being a ‘cashless society’. Suddenly, it is easier to see how someone could end up in a challenging cycle, unable to move forward.

The biggest part of what we work to do at Big Issue North is helping people to progress in their lives. How that progress looks varies from vendor to vendor, dependent on personal backgrounds and experiences.

Many of the people we work with have had challenging, difficult pasts that have included homelessness and severe poverty. Our latest vendor audit found that 25% of vendors begged before selling the magazine. Some have long histories of substance use or serious mental health conditions. A fifth of our vendors are disabled, one in ten have been in care and one in five have been in prison or have a criminal record.

These are not insignificant issues to navigate. It can take a lot of work and time to overcome adversities like these and to make lasting changes. But every change must begin somewhere. That’s why even the smallest act of support can be an impactful step for someone trying to improve their life. This could include setting up a bank account or submitting a housing application.

Steve, a vendor based in Manchester City Centre, concurs: “I have a life because Big Issue North helped me. They helped me get into [rehabilitation centre] the Priory when I needed it, they helped me get a flat, helped me get a job… I know how it can change your life for the better.”

Each week, around 350 people sell The Big Issue in the north of England, visiting our regional offices to buy the magazine for £2 before selling it on the streets for £4.

Big Issue North is here for anyone who needs us. Everyone has the right to work their way to a better life and deserves to be helped to do so. Your purchase of The Big Issue from your local vendor can set someone on that path to changing their lives. It is thanks to you that we can continue to support those who need it the most.

Learn more about how you can support Big Issue North vendors here

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