Big Issue North goes on sale at North West stores to help vendors facing 'destitution'

Simon Austin's picture

Big Issue North is going on sale in 382 McColl’s stores and 32 Sainsbury’s stores across the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber following the ‘incredibly difficult’ decision to stop selling the magazine on the street because of coronavirus.

Half of the Manchester-headquartered organisation’s proceeds will go directly to a hardship fund to provide financial support for vendors.

This will help with things such as securing accommodation, paying rent or bills, or covering the cost of essential shopping.

“As well as losing what for many is their only job for the foreseeable future, a third of our vendors are currently homeless, making it incredibly difficult for them to self-isolate,” Big Issue North said.

“One in five also fall into high-risk categories due to their age or existing health conditions, such as asthma, COPD or diabetes. A third have also relied on a foodbank or soup kitchen at some point, not only for food, but also for toiletries, cleaning products and fuel vouchers.

“This number is likely to rise as many vendors now face the prospect of destitution, but an increasing number of these services have been forced to close their doors, leaving our vendors without the support they so desperately need.

“This is also likely to have a severe impact on the mental health of our vendors. Four in five people experiencing homelessness struggle with mental illness, and this crisis will add to their anxieties.

“Thankfully, members of the public have come forward to offer their support and (we) have received around £1,000 a day in donations. We have also seen an influx of people taking out subscriptions to Big Issue North and our new quarterly magazine, The New Issue, as well as buying physical and digital issues online.

“However, we need to generate significantly more income in the weeks to come to be able to provide the support our vendors need.

"This will include securing accommodation for our vendors who are homeless, covering the cost of rent, bills and essential shopping for as long as they are unable to work, and enabling our frontline staff to continue to provide support remotely, from helping vendors to register with a GP or for Universal Credit to providing vital information and translation services for vendors who are not fluent in English or do not have access to the internet, television or radio.”

People have been encouraged to help by either making a donation to the hardship fund, purchasing a digital issue of the magazine, buying back issues or Big Issue North merchandise and/or taking out a subscription.