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Big Issue Christmas countdown: 12 reasons you should support our vendors this festive period

With quieter streets over the festive period for a second year in a row, we are asking our readers to help us support our 1,300 sellers by buying the magazine or taking out a subscription.

Christmas is a vital time for The Big Issue’s vendors. It’s a period in which they used to thrive, but the pandemic has changed things.

With quieter streets for a second year in a row, we are asking our readers to help us support our 1,300 sellers by buying the magazine or taking out a subscription.

Each day over the next 12 days, The Big Issue will be sharing a story of how selling the magazine has helped someone by giving them a hand up, not a handout.

1. Clive in Plymouth gets his GCSEs

Clive with his GCSE results. Image: Sue Owen

Frist up is Big Issue vendor Clive, who picked up his GCSE results in August. He said selling the magazine had helped him build his confidence.

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The 58-year-old, who has sold The Big Issue for 14 years and is a popular figure on his pitch outside Theatre Royal Plymouth, has turned his life around after battling addiction and homelessness.

Speaking after receiving his results, Clive said: “This is a massive leap for me. I feel like I’ve been to Eton or something. I never expected to do it.”

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England star and national hero Marcus Rashford was one of thousands to congratulate Clive after his achievement went viral on Twitter.

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Support The Big Issue Winter Appeal

Big Issue vendors can’t work from home and with severe weather warnings on the cards, they face a very tough and uncertain Winter period ahead.

2. Helping vendors get on LinkedIn

One vendor involved in the new LinkedIn project is Emma Ford,who usually sells the magazine in Victoria Station in London. Image credit: Louise Hayward-Schiefer / The Big Issue
One vendor involved in the LinkedIn project was Emma Ford, who sells the magazine in Victoria Station in London. Image credit: Louise Hayward-Schiefer / The Big Issue

The Big Issue helped vendors set up LinkedIn profiles during lockdown.

One of those was Emma Ford, who sells the magazine at London’s Victoria Station. She said at the time: “We can’t sell the magazine now, so it’s amazing that we can sell online. We really need that income boost. No one knows what will happen, but any little help makes a big difference.”

3. More than £1million in support for vendors

Terry Cokeley, happy to be back out in London accepting contactless payments Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Throughout lockdown The Big Issue gave more than £1m to 2,000 vendors to help them get through the time spent off their pitches.

It was a big help to vendors like Terry Cokeley. The 62-year-old from London said: “I was sorted for cash from The Big Issue, the payments really helped and it was very nice of them. They also gave me telephone calls. I was speaking to a woman called Natalia from the office. She’s a nice person, always been there for me. It helped to know that someone was looking out for me.”

4. Helping vendors set sail

James Heaton sailing
Vendor James Heaton sailing.

Vendors set sail thanks to The Big Issue. Magazine sellers James Heaton, Tate Atlas, Dean Hoy and John ‘Tip’ Daniels got the chance to crew a boat with Tall Ships Youth Sailing Trust in August. We’re always trying to help vendors pick up new skills and experiences.

“It’s the best day I’ve had this year and I’ve actually had quite a lot of good days, so that’s saying something,“ said James.

5. Supplying essential items during lockdown

Vendors during lockdown.

We’ve supported our magazine sellers through a lot this year, including clothes, toiletries, baby essentials like nappies and wipes, bike repairs, vet bills and even a new washing machine.

The Big Issue also supplied laptops to help vendors take online training courses.

6. Vendor Earl turns event promoter – befriends popstar Sam Fender

It’s been a big year for Earl. The former Big issue vendor met Sam Fender and started as a support worker for charity North East Homeless. He also launched his own poetry night.

“I’m evolving every day. I’ve had 25 years of being on the street and being my own boss selling The Big Issue. I’m adapting,” he said.

7. Community rallies to help vendor move from flood-hit home

Big Issue vendor Monica built such a connection with customers on her pitch that they raised more than £3,500 to help her family find a new home following floods.

Monica said: “When I feel like I go to my pitch in Wanstead I feel like I’m going to see my family.”

8. Vendor turns local celebrity

Nick Cuthbert Exposure Photo Agency
Nick Cuthbert. Image: Exposure Photo Agency

Big Issue vendor Nick Cuthbert highlighted how The Big Issue has made him a local celebrity in Truro with the community rallying around to support him.

Nick said: “Vendors like me probably wouldn’t survive without all the little helping hands.”

9. Connecting a vendor with his love of nature

Exeter vendor Richard Todd. Illustration: Illustration: Matthew Brazier
Exeter vendor Richard Todd. Illustration: Illustration: Matthew Brazier

Selling The Big Issue has connected Richard Todd’s pitch with nature and he has raised over £500 to feed local birds, putting out more than two metric tons of seed over the year.

Richard said: “I’d look forward to going to my pitch because I might see my pigeon.”

10. Empowering a vendor to sell their art

Big Issue vendor Dave Martin
Dave has sold the magazine for more than a decade in Hammersmith. Image: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

The Big Issue helps London vendor Dave Martin live and work as an artist, selling his masterpieces and showing them off at exhibitions. “If it wasn’t for The Big Issue I wouldn’t have started on my art.”

Come back tomorrow for another vendor story.

Help us help our vendors this Christmas. Find your nearest seller here and buy a magazine or take out a subscription.

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Support The Big Issue Winter Appeal

Big Issue vendors can’t work from home and with severe weather warnings on the cards, they face a very tough and uncertain Winter period ahead.

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