“As soon as you are NFA – of No Fixed Abode – you become invisible…..” Big Issue Vendor
The Big Issue offers some of the most excluded people in the country a unique opening to take some control of their lives and earn a legitimate income. Vendors make a personal choice to buy their magazines with their own money, taking charge of their finances and sales whilst developing the skills required to retail to the public.
Vendors buy the Big Issue magazine for 50% of the cover price. The magazines are not free and we do not operate a sale or return policy. We believe in the merits of work and do all we can to support vendors as they move their own ‘micro-businesses’ forward.
The formula is simple but challenging. Becoming a vendor gives people who are homeless or sleeping rough, in temporary accommodation, in danger of losing a home or unemployed and facing financial crisis the opportunity to sell a weekly entertainment and current affairs magazine to earn money. We are unique because our service users are working, they are our ‘customers’ and not our ‘clients’.
The Big Issue Foundation is a financially independent charity. We build around the unique trust that we establish with people who are homeless as they purchase magazines. We support and encourage vendors to make further changes to their lives so they can move away from homelessness and back into main stream society. We believe change is possible and never give up on people no matter how challenging or complex their needs, wants and aspirations may be.
We believe in a 'hand up not a hand out', and recognise that earning an income is often only the first step on a persons' journey away from homelessness. Our work focuses on delivering brighter futures, boosting self esteem and helping vendors to reclaim their citizenship.
What We Fund
We are often approached at a time of unimaginable personal crisis. Our front line team focuses on cultivating strong working relationships with Big Issue vendors and connects them to services and the vital bespoke support that is needed to help people who are homeless journey away from the street.
Health: Access to health care including dentistry, eye care, foot care, immunizations, sexual health care, registering with a GP and accessing substance misuse treatment
Finance: Help gaining ID, opening a bank/credit union account and accessing financial products with a focus on developing a savings culture
Housing: Support to end rough sleeping and access to temporary and permanent housing
Aspirations: Access to training and employment opportunities, support re-establishing family networks and opportunities to take up hobbies and interests.
We have found this to be the most efficient and cost-effective way to support our vendors. It front line average cost of a positive outcome for a homeless person is just £150.
Additionally, our national ‘Vendor Support Fund’ is available on application to vendors throughout the United Kingdom. The fund aims to give a small hand up to vendors with a specific objective in mind. Vendors save and contribute 20% towards the cost of the item required. We grant the additional 80% from our donated funds to help make the ideal a reality.
Homelessness is on the increase. Simple items that we all take for granted can seem like an impossible dream to a person living on the street.
£10.70 covered the costs for Michael to attend a housing appointment in Birmingham
£17.99 helped John from Bath get trainers to help him get fit before joining the Army
£50.40 bought Chris from Oxford a new suit and shoes for a job interview
£77.50 provided Anna from Bristol with a passport to use as official ID to open a bank account
£200 enabled Paul from Plymouth to buy a set of tools for the start of his plumbing course
“A hand up is what The Big Issue offers, helping me to be self sufficient and being the guiding light I needed”. Eliot Schofield, Big Issue Vendor
We urgently need your help to support our work – Click here to donate