Big Issue Foundation

“With your help we’ll keep transforming vendors’ lives”

Our new Director of Service Development, Laurie Oliva, tells us a little bit about her work and plans for the future.

I’m writing this on the train home from Scotland where I’ve spent two days in Glasgow and Edinburgh with our new Vendor Outreach Worker for Scotland, Matt. We’ve handed out fuel vouchers, hats and socks; coached vendors to use their smartphones to do more online and helped people deal with the pressure that the cost-of-living crisis is already causing. Like for the vendor whose husband’s income suddenly ended when he had to stop working due to an accident.  Situations like this cause immediate distress and can quickly cause destitution. However, our team was there to offer emotional and practical support and stop things getting worse by supporting her to liaise with her energy suppliers and ensure she is able to keep her home heated. 

A week earlier I was in Wales with our new Vendor Outreach Worker there, Ben. It was brilliant to meet a long-term vendor in Penarth and see how much a part of the community she is – one passerby handed over a coffee as we chatted – but my highlight was the excitement of a young vendor who, with Ben’s help, managed to get the final signature required for his passport application meaning that for the first time in his life he will soon have official ID and be able to take up a job promised to him in a local pub.

Socks, passports, a job to go to, a warm home – these sum up what, in just my first three months, I have come to love so much about this job: how tangible the impact of our frontline team is. Small things that offer immediate dignity and build into long-term life changes. 

Big Issue Foundation
Your gift today will mean Big Issue vendors will get the support they need to progress forward in life. You will be supporting vendors in key areas including housing, finance, mental health and employment.

In 2021 we expanded our frontline support capacity by 70 per cent and in addition to arriving in Wales and Scotland we have spread further across England too. With this new capacity we’ll be supporting more vendors than ever from this year onwards. To help us do that we’re doing some spring cleaning: improving our systems and processes and building the capability of our workforce. We’re also testing new ventures, with our first peer-supported programme launching in the autumn, a new mental health programme in London, an Arts Council-funded tour of a play about homelessness coming to towns across England, and new ventures to support digital access and literacy across the country. As ever, we’ll do all of this in partnership with organisations and people, like our incredible supporters, who share our values and mission. We’ve always believed we can do more together and the cost-of-living crisis has certainly given all those who care about social justice a clear point of focus. 

Thank you for your ongoing support of The Big Issue Foundation. We know that right now everybody has a bit less money to spare and so your support means more than ever. We are committed to making sure that every penny you trust us with goes as far as possible to transform the lives of our incredible vendors.

Laurie Olivia, Director of Service Development

    Every copy counts this Christmas

    Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Christmas. 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 Christmas.

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