History and Achievements

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 experiencing homelessness.

Since its creation the Big Issue Foundation has provided services and referrals to address issues around housing, health, finances, education, employment and personal aspirations; helping Big Issue vendors to regain their independence and turn a livelihood into a life. In the last decade we have achieved over 40,000 positive outcomes with our vendors alone, life improving steps one and all.

In 2015 over 2000 Vendor’s achieved record levels of personal outcomes Our impactful, cost effective work included:

  • teaching transferable sales and customer service skills
  • enabling and advocating for decent accommodation, access to mainstream health care (something people who are homeless are often excluded from) and access to employment, training, education and volunteering
  • facilitating the establishment of support networks made up of other The Big Issue vendors, customers and specialist service providers.

In addition nearly £11000 was awarded to over 200 vendors through vendor support fund grants. Vendors saved a minimum 20% contribution towards these grants in keeping with our self-help ethos. Vendors took part and raised funds in many of our events, wrote content for this website and represented our work at various functions.

Our work is primarily reliant upon donations from the general public. We would like to thank our friends and supporters for their commitment and dedication to our cause. To support our work with people experiencing homelessness in the UK, please don’t hesitate to make a donation to the Big Issue Foundation today.

Sign up to our e-newsletter here