As the country transitions from a national lockdown back into the tiered system, people and businesses are adjusting to the new regulations and restrictions in place.
The Big Issue North – the charity which helps homeless people earn a living by selling magazines – is no different.
Vendors with the magazine are still able to work under Tier 3 restrictions, so long as they wear Personal Protective Equipment.
Any vendors who don’t feel comfortable returning to the streets to work – because they’re shielding or living with somebody who is vulnerable – are allowed to isolate, whereas others are being equipped with contactless payment devices to carry on as normal.
Brontë Schiltz, the Fundraising and Communications Officer for The Big Issue North, notes that although Tier 3 has no doubt complicated matters, December could still be a profitable time for the vendors.
She said: “People tend to be more generous around Christmas time, they’re out more because they’re shopping.
“Obviously, this year will be different, but we’re hoping they’ll still be out more than usual.”
In addition to selling magazines, the vendors will also be selling the charity’s calendar, which features photographs of twelve meals selected by vendors.
The meals were then prepared by The Creameries chef and Eat Well MCR founder Mary-Ellen McTague, who closed The Creameries for two days to prepare the meals.
One vendor even got the opportunity to join her in making the meals, and took some food afterwards.
The Big Issue North supplies vendors with winter wear to keep them warm whilst out working.
In years gone by, they’ve managed to get by with ‘almost enough’, but this year, they’ve been ‘inundated’ with donations.
Ms Schiltz said: “There’s a group called the UK hand-knitting association and they send us a bundle every year.
“The one they sent this year had 500 things in it!”
People have even been calling on Innocent Smoothies – who donate to Age UK every time a bottle with a little hat on is sold – to knit people-sized hats to donate to The Big Issue North.
“We accidentally hijacked their campaign!” Ms Schiltz added.
“It was out of my hands, but we got hundreds of people offering to knit us stuff!”
With 2020 showing how financially vulnerable many Britons are – the homeless charity Shelter reported in 2019 that three million Britons are a pay-cheque away from homelessness – and Ms Schiltz hopes there’ll be a shift in how people view people sleeping on the streets.
“If anything good comes out of this year, I hope it’s just people realising how easily they could be homeless and how important it is that we help each other, especially if no support is available.
“The pandemic has shown that we’re all in this together, and people living on the streets is not good for any of us.”