Stage Swap

The Big Issue Foundation, in partnership with WhatsOnStage Awards, has developed Stage Swap, where West End performers swap the stage for the street and sell The Big Issue for 2 hours. Stage Swap provides an eye-opening perspective on the streets outside London theatres, and on the challenges that The Big Issue Foundation is helping vendors to address.

The most recent Stage Swap event took place on Wednesday 2nd July when Zoe Rainey and Ben Stock joined us and saw London’s pavements from a very different perspective whilst trying their hand at vending. It was a wonderfully sunny day which made it a far more pleasant experience than the event in February, but both groups had the same opportunity to reflect on the reactions and challenges they faced, as well as the empathy and support shown by some members of the public and other vendors.

Zoe and Ben add their names to those of Alison Steadman, Haydn Gwynne, Melanie Masson, Sally Dexter and Sam Lupton along with the WhatsOnStage team who joined us back in February for 4 ½ hours to learn about The Big Issue and the work of The Big Issue Foundation. All have been paired with Big Issue vendors as their mentors for the experience, and gained a rare insight into how hard they have to work to earn their money from the magazines.

If you are an actor or performer interested in taking pat in Stage Swap then why not sign up for updates on future Stage Swaps.

This is what our guest vendors had to say about the day:

What a fantastic experience.  It was humbling and eye opening and taught me so much about The Big Issue Foundation which destroyed any misconceptions I had inherited from others.  The Big Issue vendors inspired me as they are people who are taking their current situation into their own hands and making a future for themselves with the support and encouragement of the foundation.  I gained wisdom from spending time with them and even experienced huge generosity in such a busy city.  I highly recommend getting involved in StageSwap and getting an insight into this world.

Watch Zoe reflect on her time selling The Big Issue and read her written account.

Ben Stock:

Selling The Big Issue was an enlightening and humbling experience. I'd never really thought that hard about the realities for the vendors. I'd encourage others to sign up for this unique experience.

Read Ben’s thoughts on Stage Swap

Alison Steadman:

A great experience, I learned a lot. I’d be happy to talk to encourage other people to take part.  It made me really think about people who are homeless.

Watch Alison explain why she thinks others should take part.

Haydn Gwynne:

Even in such a brief time I got a sense of the highs and the lows of trying to sell The Big Issue (a really good magazine by the way!).

Listen to Haydn explain Stage Swap and encourage her fellow performers to get involved.

Sam Lupton:

A really fantastic, enlightening and enjoyable day. It really opened my eyes to the truth behind The Big Issue! Everyone in Theatreland should do this!

Sally Dexter:

A great experience! Thank you!
I spent the morning being inspired and enlightened (and rained on!) but discovered a heart warming sense of community I didn’t know existed in the culture of London. People do care, but more of them need to understand what The Big Issue is and what The Big Issue Foundation does, because homelessness is an issue that is getting BIGGER…

Melanie Masson:

My day selling the Big Issue was a real eye opener. The vendors I met were amazing, inspirational people. Trying to sell the Big Issue to uninterested people was soul destroying. It was so much harder than I ever imagined but I'm so glad I did it and got to spend time with, and hear the life stories of, some of the people who make their living selling the magazine.

Sign up now!

If you are a West End Performer who wants to become one of the charitable actors or performers taking part in an upcoming Stage Swap please email

If you would like to register for updates on our exclusive photos, videos and articles on future Stage Swap please complete the form below:

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