On Friday 8th March, over 350 of our supporters, staff members and volunteers gathered at Shoreditch Town Hall before the walkers set off on a 13-mile walk to raise funds for The Big Issue Foundation’s work. Joining the walk were teams from Big Issue Invest, Apple, NHS, McKinsey & Co, and CII who have all been fundraising hard in the run up to the main event, along with dedicated supporters from across the world!
The evening began when our Big Night Walkers were greeted with a stunning performance by London International Gospel Choir, headed up by their Artistic Director Naveen Arles. Bringing joyful songs and breath-taking harmonies, the choir had us all singing along excited about the upcoming event! Alongside the choir’s energising music, friends gathered around and captured memories to take home thanks to Pose Then Pout’s Selfie Mirror.
After the performance, we welcomed Stephen Robertson, CEO of The Big Issue Foundation, onto the stage to remind us all about the cause we were supporting at The Big Night Walk. “There is a serious reason why we do this walk,” Stephen told the crowd. “Just under 4,700 people will sleep rough on the streets of our country in any given night of the year. And we certainly know that for many people who are new to the street, they don’t sleep on the streets at night: they walk at night and sleep in the day”.
We then heard from Christy Isaac and Vicky Major, two of The Big Issue Foundation’s Service Brokers who support Big Issue vendors across London, and Mary, who sells the Big Issue outside Pret A Manger at on Horseferry Road and told us about her journey with the Big Issue. Mary spoke about the work she has done with The Big Issue Foundation, including a meeting at the House of Lords concerning homelessness and training workshops with Hackney Council. “I’m at uni doing Psychology and Criminology,” Mary said, closing her talk. “By the time I get my degree, the austerity generation will be coming out of the youth offending institutes and I’m going to teach them life skills.”
Next up on the stage we had Big Night Walk regulars James Bowen, who is himself a former Big Issue vendor, and Street Cat Bob. “By my calculations,” James said, “it’s actually been 10 years since the first Night Walk that I talked about in my books”. Fans of James and Bob were thrilled to see them return to the Big Night Walk stage and the Big Issue Foundation team was delighted to continue our partnership with the dynamic duo!
Following an invigorating warm-up routine from the Big Issue Foundation’s very own staff member Rhia Docherty, our walkers set out along our unique route through the capital. With three rest stops along the route, we made sure they were able to stop off along the way for a rest and some refreshments, including a kind donation from Koko Dairy Free.
The Big Night Walkers’ first rest stop on the route was at Haverstock School, where they enjoyed Karma Cola and cupcakes, which were generously donated to us. A massive thank you to Haverstock School and Karma Cola for your support! Along the route, the wonderful team from The Fair were on hand to ensure everyone’s safety.
The final rest stop before returning to Shoreditch Town Hall was at St John’s Church, Waterloo. At this beautiful venue, the snacks were provided by the wonderful Perkier, who gave us some delicious cereal bars!
To every supporter, volunteer, venue and business which supported The Big Night Walk 2019- thank you for being a changemaker! If you want to get involved next year, you can register your interest in The Big Night Walk 2020 here.