Once again, we have found ourselves in lockdown across England. Once again Big Issue vendors have been stripped of their income overnight.
Asking over 1,000 vendors to stop selling for a second time was not a decision The Big Issue took lightly. It was made with the careful consideration of government guidelines alongside the health and safety of vendors and their customers.
When the UK locked down in March, we were able to give financial and emotional support to vendors thanks to the generosity of the public.
And this time is no different. Frontline teams are continuing to stay in contact with vendors, providing reassurance as well as gift payments and supermarket vouchers to reduce the impact of lost income. We have already provided a first wave of financial support to over 1,000 vendors.
No matter how challenging it is, getting vendors ‘Cashless Ready’ remains a priority. Currently we have supported 509 vendors across the UK to go cashless.
We have also been providing additional support where needed.
We recently accessed the Vendor Support Fund for a dehumidifier for a vendor as his flat is incredibly damp. He suffers with COPD and must be extremely careful of his environment. However, his electric tariff is extremely high in his current accommodation. We have previously spoken to his landlord about this however he informed us it is a set-rate. We have provided additional financial support to help them cover their electricity bill.
A vendor had recently been sleeping rough or sofa surfing. On the 6th November, he moved into private accommodation. We supported him to pick up a moving in pack from the AOK Rucksack appeal, which included many of the essential items that he had originally needed including bedding, towels, kettle, toaster, plates, cutlery, pots and pans. However, he still requires a hoover and curtains. We have accessed the Vendor Support Fund to help pay for these items.
A vendor is 8 months pregnant and a mother to a one-and-a-half-year-old boy. Her partner lost his job last lockdown and they have struggled ever since. We have referred them to a local baby bank for a pram and other essentials. We have accessed the Vendor Support Fund to supply a voucher to cover other supplies as they prepare for the arrival of their new family member.
Due to the recent breakdown of his relationship, a vendor is now handling his finances and bills by himself and is concerned about getting into debt due to lockdown. He has custody of a dog and cockatiel and has asked for support in providing them with food and treats to get through the next few weeks, to take the pressure off his financial situation. We have accessed the Vendor Support Fund to help his furry and feathered family members.