The Big Issue vendors return to the streets as lockdown eases

Michael Costello... now back on his pitch at Canary Wharf after 22 weeks

Michael Costello... now back on his pitch at Canary Wharf after 22 weeks - Credit: Travis Hodges

Vendors are back on the streets of east London pushing out copies of The Big Issue as lockdown eases.  

They have returned to their pitches to sell the magazine that raises funds and awareness about poverty and homelessness. 

Michael Costello, 76, was anxious to get back to his pitch outside Canary Wharf Underground Station. 

“Having a regular income is obvious,” he said. “But I’ve really been looking forward to normality.  It’s a strain on the country having to shut down, so I hope things go back to normal.”  

He usually sells the title in Canary Wharf to supplement his pension and so he can carry on looking after wildlife in his spare time.

The magazine, which offers homeless and vulnerably-housed people an income, decided to safeguard vendors and the public during the coronavirus lockdowns by stopping street selling. 

Norma Taylor... worries to make sure her regulars survived.

Norma Taylor... worries to make sure her regulars survived. - Credit: Orlando Gili

Another vendor, Norma Taylor, 64, said: “I’m looking forward to earning my daily bread and also want to make sure my regulars survived.  

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“Some of my regulars were elderly and I worry about those who used to travel. We've missed them because they make our day and we make their day.” 

Vendor Mike Danks with protective face cover and contactless card payment device

Vendor Mike Danks... with protective face cover and his contactless card payment device - Credit: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Around 1,400 vendors up and down the country are back out selling for the first time in 22 weeks, with safety measures such as PPE and contactless card payment equipment.

Safety procedures are also in place at distribution offices to safeguard vendors and the public. 

The Big Issue’s founder, Lord John Bird, said: “We are full of pride that our vendors are back out there after lockdown, to reconnect with local communities.” 

Donations and subscriptions from readers and well-wishers have supported vendors while they have been unable to sell on the streets. 

Around 200 million copies of The Big Issue have been sold by 100,000 vulnerable people since its launch in 1991.  

Its investment arm has backed 400 UK social enterprises and charities and currently manages or advises on £350million social impact funds.

The investment comes from private sources, not the magazine sales.