Local Big Issue vendors return to safely sell on high streets of London


This week Big Issue vendors in London have returned eagerly to their pitches to sell the magazine for the first time since the third national lockdown.

TBI, which offers homeless and vulnerably housed people a means by which to earn a legitimate income, has taken the decision over the past three national lockdowns to safeguard its network of vendors and the public by asking that they stop selling on streets across the whole of the UK.

Following announcements by the government regarding the easing of restrictions, the organisation confirmed that 1,400 magazine vendors will be back out selling the magazine across England and Wales for the first time in over 22 weeks since lockdown.

TBI has taken measures including the provision of extensive PPE, contactless card payment equipment and the introduction of stringent health and safety procedures in all distribution offices to ensure vendors’ and customers safety remains paramount.

Norma Jean Taylor, 64 who sells the magazine outside Waterloo Station, said: “I’m looking forward to seeing my people again and earning my daily bread. I want to meet my regulars to make sure they survived this mishap or whatever you want to call it. Some of my regulars were elderly and I worry about those who used to travel from afar – I guarantee some of them will be just working from home now because they will find that it’s better to do that than go back to work. I’m looking forward to seeing other vendors and making sure they are okay as well as the customers. Our customers are important to us and we have missed them sorely because they make our day and we make their day.”

Mike Danks, 61, who sells the magazine outside Finsbury Park tube station, said: “Just getting out of the house, getting back into a bit of work and trying to motivate myself into doing something positive. It’s definitely been a difficult year but I want to get back to seeing people at The Big Issue and customers. It will be nice to see people who I have gotten to know over the last few years. I’m hoping there won’t be another lockdown.”

Michael Costello, 76, who sells the magazine outside Canary Wharf, said: “Having a regular income is a fairly obvious one but I’m looking forward to normality. It’s a great strain on the country having shut down. Most of all I hope things go back to normal. There are plenty of things I can’t do, such as contact friends because the likelihood is they will be locked down.”

Dave Martin, 59, who sells the magazine outside Tesco, Hammersmith, said: “I’m already back on my pitch, handing out cards for my art website. I have had a good welcome back. I know quite a lot of people and they’re really glad to see me. That’s what I’ve been missing when I’ve been on my own. When I get back to selling the magazine I hope I see everyone. You get a connection, you have a rapport and I hope everyone is okay with Covid going on.The Big Issue’s staff have welcomed me back and I like to be here. It’s a social thing. It’s not just about selling the magazine.”

Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue said: “We are full of pride and hope that, after over 22 weeks of being in lockdown, our vendors are back out there, able to reconnect with their local communities and earn a legitimate income once again.

“As ever, we wish to thank all those who have so generously supported us and our vendors during this challenging time. Every donation and subscription that has been made or taken out, has meant that we have been able to support vendors while they have been unable to sell the magazine safely on the streets.

“Please look out for your local vendor back on their pitch from today. We would encourage anyone who doesn’t have a local vendor and wants to support our mission to help people in poverty improve their lives to buy a subscription to the magazine. We’ve have missed you all and we are so pleased to be back.”