In the wake of the second national lockdown, The Big Issue North has made the decision to pull their vendors from the streets.
This leaves the vendors of the magazine, which is sold by the homeless to help them earn an income, in particularly hard circumstances.
Not only is Christmas usually their busiest time of year, they are also faced with extra expenses and the increasingly cold weather.
The Big Issue North is ensuring that their Hardship Fund will go towards covering rent and essential shopping costs, whilst their frontline staff provide practical support remotely – whether it be referrals to food banks or providing updates on government policy to vendors who can’t access the internet.
What has the magazine learnt from the last time the country was put into lockdown?
Fundraising and Communications Officer Brontë Schiltz said: “The main lesson we took away from the previous lockdown was how keen people were to help, which was heartwarming.
“We’ve therefore diversified the ways people can get involved this time around.”
In addition to the Hardship Fund, at easydonate.org/HARDSHIP, people can help out by picking up a copy of the magazine from Sainsbury’s, the Co-Op, McColl’s or Booths. An online subscription is also available here.
Miss Schiltz said, “We realise that this is a tough time and that not everyone who wants to help will be able to afford to pay £45.50 or more for a subscription package.
“So we’ve now introduced a £3 weekly direct debit subscription that can be cancelled at any time.”
The Big Issue North is also expanding the stock in their online shop, which includes a range of handmade jewellery and homeware, made from recycled copies of the magazine.
In addition to this, there will be a 2021 calendar available, which contains recipes for twelve of the vendors’ favourite meals, as cooked by The Creameries chef and Eat Well MCR founder Mary-Ellen McTague. This calendar will only be £5.
For £10, people can buy a Christmas 2020 bundle, including a calendar, a Big Issue North tote bag featuring quotes from poet Ian McMillan, and five ‘pun-tastic’ Christmas cards.
Miss Schiltz described it as ‘very welcome news’ that the government would be providing support for vendors, having announced £15 million in funding for local councils to support the homeless.
Bailiffs will also be prohibited from carrying out evictions over lockdown.
This second lockdown has come at a time when people are particularly vulnerable to homelessness, so the Big Issue North is keen to encourage anybody who can afford to help out to do so.
To sign up for the weekly direct debit scheme click here.