Big Issue launches campaign that highlights support for sellers in time of crisis


From Saturday 10th October,  on World Homeless Day, The Big Issue (TBI) has launched a digital campaign to highlight the support that Big Issue sellers receive from the Frontline team at the organisation in a bid to help boost sales of the magazine.

The Big Issue, which offers homeless and vulnerably housed people across the UK a means by which to earn a legitimate income, took the decision to safeguard its network of sellers and the public by asking that they stop selling on streets across the whole of the UK with immediate effect on 20th March.

On Monday 6th July, Big Issue sellers returned to selling the magazine across the country. However, with footfall significantly lower on many high streets, every sale counts and support from the public is needed now, more than ever.

The campaign, called “The Big Opportunity”, developed in partnership with creative agency, Fox & Hare, seeks to shine a light on the support that Big Issue sellers receive from the team on the ground in order to pursue their ambitions and passions.

The Big Issue team of over 60 frontline staff work with sellers in the following ways:

  • Connection to specialist support services, access to safe and secure accommodation, support to gain official ID which facilitates registering for many services including obtaining a bank account
  • Access to The Big Issue Vendor Support Fund for tools or items sellers might need to improve their lives
  • Support with money management and digital and financial inclusion
  • Help with exploring career opportunities by helping sellers to recognise transferable skills, update their CVs, search and apply for jobs and with interview coaching
  • Back to work programmes, including corporate vendor placements and partnerships with organisations where there may be opportunities for sellers to take on roles within the business

The campaign consists of a series of 12 success stories that show the opportunity that selling The Big Issue provides people with for a chance to change their lives and realise their ambitions. The stories will be shared across the organisation’s website and social channels for four weeks.

The first story, to be shared on Saturday 10th October, World Homeless Day, tells the story of Big Issue seller Martin McKenzie, 39, from London. He’s now been able to earn a living outside of selling the magazine and has aspirations to expand his mobile bike repair business. Martin has been supported to obtain a passport for ID and provided him with a card reader so he can accept contactless payments. Martin has also shared his mechanical skills in The Big Issue magazine’s weekly Seller Expert column.

Martin said: “I can turn my hand to anything. I’m educating myself in electric bikes at the minute so I can have a general understanding of how the battery packs work, and the motors, and how to rechain them and so on. The bigger picture for the business is a rickshaw. The Big Issue has always led to better things for me – it’s been there to help me get back on my feet a few times now, and I’m determined to get back on my feet this time too.”

Lord John Bird, the founder of The Big Issue, said: “With city and town centres a good deal quieter than usual, it’s very tough out there at the moment for Big Issue sellers. We felt it important to show people how life-changing our support can prove to be. Not only do we provide people with a means to earn a legitimate income by selling the magazine but we work closely with each and every seller to help them on their way to pursuing ambitions that they may have.

“We ask that you please be a part of that process of giving someone The Big Opportunity they need and deserve by buying a copy of the magazine. We would encourage anyone who wants to support us who doesn’t have a local seller to support The Big Issue’s mission to help people in poverty improve their lives, by buying a subscription to the magazine.”

Ben Fox, Strategy and Planning Director at Fox & Hare, said: “Following the success of #TheBigMissYou creative campaign at the start of lockdown, Fox & Hare wanted to continue supporting The Big Issue’s mission even further by championing the huge effort that frontline staff provide in order to improve vendors lives, as well as promoting a handful of the vendors themselves who are proving that hard work pays off in the long-term.

“There are so many opportunities for vendors and it’s all possible because of their frontline staff, so we wanted to share the powerful message of the #TheBigOpportunity to encourage more vendors to join up. Now more than ever, The Big Issue needs support to keep this life-changing work moving, so we’re urging everyone to subscribe to the digital edition of the magazine and play their part too.”

To read more about Martin and the other 11 stories being shared over the next four weeks, visit or follow The Big Issue on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.