Big Issue Foundation

“No one to be alone this Christmas” Cheralyn’s #BigWish

One Big Issue vendor, Cheralyn, told us her #BigWish this year is for no one to be alone this Christmas because she knows how it feels.

Last year many of our vendors were isolated for Christmas in hotel accommodation. They didn’t see all their customers or each other and weren’t able to pop into the Big Issue office’s for a catch up. We made regular welfare calls to vendors during this time and often, we were the only people they spoke to in a week.

Of course, Big Issue vendors were not the only people who were affected. After over a year of lockdowns, social distancing, and restrictions on travel and gatherings, some groups of people have reported high rates of loneliness and poorer well-being in recent months.

Chart showing topic of wellbeing conversations during lockdown. 55% of calls focusing on wellbeing dealt directly with vendors’ mental health, particularly feelings of loneliness and social isolation

Levels of loneliness in Great Britain have increased since spring 2020. Between 3 April and 3 May 2020, 5.0% of people (about 2.6 million adults) said that they felt lonely “often” or “always”. From October 2020 to February 2021, results from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) show that proportion increased to 7.2% of the adult population (about 3.7 million adults).

Research has shown that loneliness and social isolation are associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure as well as developing coronary heart disease and stroke. One study even found that Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Round the clock frontline support

Our frontline teams continue to work around the clock to support Big Issue vendors with their mental health and wellbeing.

Vendor Mick and West Midlands Services Team Susannah and Tom, photography by Magnus Arrevad

We have been in regular touch with another vendor with poor mental health. He has explained that he is really struggling, he is lonely as his lives in his accommodation by himself. He called us for a chat as he was feeling really low. We gave him the phone numbers for mental health phone lines and we emailed a local organisation to see if they provide phone befriending at this time, as after speaking to him, he said he feels this would be beneficial. We have found a local organisation who can help and have made a referral for this vendor.

We spoke to another vendor who was concerned about the well-being of his elderly parents who live in another city. He had no phone, so he had written to them but had not heard back. We were able to get a pay-as-you-go phone with £10 credit so he could keep in contact with them.

One vendor who has struggled with time on his own told us: ‘The Big Issue has been brilliant, life saving stuff because without you I’d probably been drinking again, outside on my own. Thank you for all the phone calls and allowing me to share, telephone calls have helped me keep on the right path again’

Our frontline teams work around the clock to support Big Issue vendors with their mental health and wellbeing. You can ensure Big Issue vendors receive the support they need this winter by donating to the Big Issue Foundation today.

Every copy counts this Winter

Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Winter. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Winter.

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