Two jobs, one goal

For an increasing number of people, a second job is the working norm. But, in the case of vendors who have found other forms of employment, their need to continue to sell The Big Issue is questioned.

Hero image

It is not uncommon for people to have a second job. Following the pandemic, it’s become a regular working pattern.

A study by Henley Business School found that 1 in 4 UK adults have a “side hustle” – a small business or secondary job in addition to their main career. Many of those who have started a side hustle reportedly did so to follow a passion or explore a new challenge.

For an increasing number of people, however, a second job isn’t about passion. It’s about earning enough to make ends meet and to pay for living essentials. It’s estimated that 5.2 million workers in the UK have been forced to take on extra jobs to keep up with the cost-of-living crisis.

“I have two jobs,” says Ionut, a vendor who works in Goole. “One is selling the magazine. I am on my pitch on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays… But I also work for a pizza place part-time. I work very hard for my children.”

Ionut has sold Big Issue North and The Big Issue for the past three years. He works to support his wife and two children, having come to the UK from Romania to find work. His situation is a common one among our vendors, particularly those who are non-British and supporting a family. Ionut works to pay their rent, utility bills, and food costs.

Even though having multiple jobs is increasingly the norm, we are sometimes challenged about our vendors having more than one job. The validity of their need to sell the magazine if they are openly working elsewhere can be scrutinised; aren’t they taking pitches or opportunities from other people who truly need to sell the magazine?

This is not the case. There is no limit on the number of vendors we can have working at one time. In fact, the more vendors we have, the more we can do to support them and any potential new vendors. This includes support with health services, wellbeing, finances, housing, employment, and legal advice.

Often, queries about a vendor’s “right” to sell the magazine stem from damaging misconceptions. A recent (and particularly misguided) online article took it a step further, suggesting that the supplementary earnings of Roma vendors are not only unnecessary but ill-gotten. It referred to them as “a particular community” that “takes to a social enterprise designed to help the homeless as just another income stream.”

Where someone was born shouldn’t interfere with their right to improve their life. Yet the prejudices most often leveraged against Roma people come from this idea that they are taking something from British people – from people who, by their chanced birthplace, deserve it more.

In the cases of those vendors who have managed to find other forms of work, their need to continue to sell the magazine may be questioned. Our answer is simple: sometimes, people need to make more money.

We believe that everyone has the right to earn an independent income. As a result, anyone who wants to sell the magazine can do so, regardless of their background or personal circumstances. Being a vendor is a flexible, sustainable means of earning money, and this is more crucial when other work options are just not accessible.

Many people – Roma or otherwise – face barriers when trying to secure regular, secure, mainstream employment. This can include struggles with mental health, physical health, drug or alcohol dependence, lack of qualifications, a lack of literacy and language skills, homelessness or because they are newer to the country. Unlike most jobs, we do not ask applicants to provide a permanent address, ID, bank account, qualifications, or previous experience.

In the cases of those vendors who have managed to find other forms of work, their need to then continue to sell the magazine may be questioned. Our answer is simple: sometimes, people need to make more money.

We would also be neglecting the fact that there is no set income from selling The Big Issue. Sales are dependent on all sorts of things, from the weather to the time of year, or from how many hours they can be on their pitch to how many people are out shopping. If you consider that the average food bill per week is nearly £40 per person, a vendor needs to sell 20 magazines to cover costs alone.

Whilst making money is the primary goal for many vendors, selling the magazine is also a means of accessing support, gaining structure, and having an opportunity for social interaction. All things that are essential to someone’s wellbeing, health, and happiness. “I enjoy selling the magazine,” says Ionut. “I would not want to stop doing that. It gives me money for my kids so that I can give them a good life. If I see my children happy, then I am happy.”

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a vendor, simply get in touch with us at

Similarly, you can support our mission to help those in need of work, by texting BINORTH to 70970 to give £5, or visit

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to Two jobs, one goal

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.