Huffpost UK uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Paul McNamee Headshot

Righteous Revolutions: Why You Should Buy the Big Issue NOW

Posted: Updated:

The Big Issue is still revolutionary.

That is quite something for a magazine launched 22 years ago.

In 1991 John Bird and the Body Shop's Gordon Roddick set about providing the homeless, those at risk of losing their home and those at the very margins of society with a legitimate means of making a living. This has remained the constant ever since.

Our magazine is produced, the vendor buys it from us for half the cover price then they sell it on the street. From there, everything flows.

Vendors make money, they begin to feel self-respect again and they move back towards the elements of normal life you and I take for granted.

Our vendors also begin to become familiar and valued within their communities. Readers relationship with the magazine is much more complex than with other titles. It's tied up in feelings for individual vendors. A high percentage of correspondence I get is from concerned members of the public when their local Big Issue seller goes missing.

The men and women who come to sell the magazine hit the bottom for a host of reasons. For some, it's relationship breakdown. Over 10% of them selling are ex-military.

Not all our vendors are from Britain. But that it doesn't mean they need less help.

Poverty doesn't know borders and when folk are on their uppers and find they need to sell in order to earn some kind of living, they don't get turned away.

If the Big Issue didn't exist, those at the margins could perhaps turn to illegal ways of making money. The magazine is a crime preventer. See a vendor in your area, you know that area is a bit safer.

There's something else. The Big Issue is really good. I would say that, of course, but see that story this year with Norman Tebbit banging on about a lesbian queen and marrying his son? That came from The Big Issue. Or maybe quotes from Terence Stamp, or Martin Amis or Claire Bloom saying incredible things to their younger selves? Chances are they came from us.

Frequently we get the biggest stars and the most interesting people opening up to us in ways they just won't anywhere else.

We keep pushing convention. Last week, a seven year-old schoolboy created something unique. Dylan Allman, from Haverfordwest in Wales, designed the cover of The Big Issue magazine. He won a competition inviting school kids from across Britain to take over the cover for our festive edition.

It's brilliant. Dylan painted a reindeer whose antlers are hands, the hands holding a copy of the magazine. He said he did it because he wanted to put a smile on the face of his local vendor. We also ran over 100 of the best other entries. If the kids were prepared to invest that time and effort in their entries, the least we could do was print them.

This week the cover is another belter. We have photos of several hundred vendors placed to make one single image of Santa. It's one that will make you want to stand back and applaud.

Every week, we aim to create a magazine worthy of the brand, worthy of the men and women who sell it and worth you spending your money on.

We have helped thousands of people and put millions of pounds into their pockets in the last two decades. We're not a government agency, we're a magazine, one with a righteous fire and a independent anti-authority streak.

We have mattered for a long time and we matter now more than ever.

Go and find your local vendor, chat to them, buy the magazine and then do it again the following week. Very quickly you'll discover The Big Issue works.

Around the Web

Big Issue | Journalism worth paying for

The Big Issue

The Big Issue South Africa

The Big Issue in the North | A weekly magazine. Vendors are ...

Letters of Note: The Big Issue's Book of the Year

Fewer Deportations Big Issue For Asians, Hispanics

Appeal to support Cornwall's Big Issue sellers

Small doorframes a big issue at Woodstock fire hall