The Big Issue was launched in 1991 by Gordon Roddick and A. John Bird in response to the growing number of rough sleepers on the streets of London. The two believed that the key to solving the problem of homelessness lay in helping people to help themselves. Vendors buy their magazines with their own money and sell them at their own profit or loss.
To complement the self-help ethos of The Big Issue Magazine, The Big Issue Foundation was established in 1995 to link vendors with the vital support and services which help them address the issues that led to and have arisen as a result of being homeless.
Since its creation the Foundation has provided services and referrals to address issues around housing, health, finances, education, employment and personal aspirations.
In 2013 we committed new funding to support vendors in their first weeks of selling the magazine. The 'street sales team' initiative is a mix of paid and voluntary support on the streets of the capital, with the specific focus of stabilizing vendors as the seek to become economically active. We also revised our service structure to increase our ability to reach out to vendors that might not originally have made contact with us.
As a result we achieved an 11% year-on-year improvement in outcomes and a 30% improvement compared to 2 years ago. The average front-line cost per outcome was just under £200, representing excellent value for money in a difficult funding environment and a meaningful increase in our work with Big Issue vendors.
What our Vendors have achieved in the last year
Download our 2009 annual review (3.5MB PDF)
Download our Aspirations Week 2012 report (800KB PDF)