I committed to participate in and raise money via this year’s London to Paris bike ride late last year. It is the only major event that we run that I have not completed so it seemed like a great New Year's resolution. People often think of the Big Issue as a large organization because of the visibility of vendors up and down Britain's high streets, whereas the reverse is true.
Our work focuses on offering self-help solutions for homeless and vulnerably housed people, a 'hand up and not a hand out', help with housing, health, finances and goal setting. We might be small but together we achieve a lot. We believe in team work and this ride is completely in-tune with our ethos.
I will be riding the 230 miles with some of our vendors and a great bunch of supporters - a massive privilege all round.
Naturally I would say that our services are vital and we help our vendors to make changes to their lives everyday but it is absolutely true. Our services worked directly with over 3000 people last year and each positive achievement cost us an average of around £150.
Tragically we have been much in the news recently with the shocking death of 2 of our vendors in Birmingham. The Big Issue extends a hand of hope and works because it gets people working and then does so much more... We live in times of increasing austerity. Homelessness is increasing and there is little good to say about a life on the margins of society. We have to work together to create opportunities for change.
Please join us in July or sponsor me at www.justgiving.org.uk/Stephen-Robertson1
Many thanks - Stephen Robertson
Big Issue Foundation Chief Executive