Big Issue founder hopes people enter 2021 in spirit of ‘social kindness’ as vendors return to streets

The founder of The Big Issue has described 2020 as “the worst of all years” but also a year of great social kindness, as vendors prepare to return to the streets to sell the magazine.

Lord John Bird (pictured) welcomed the return to selling on the streets from Tuesday after vendors have been in lockdown for four weeks.

He said: “If 2020 goes down in history as the year of tragic and avoidable deaths, unemployment, loneliness and separation, then it may also go down as a year of social kindness.

“No year was so crammed full of a sense that we have to help those in desperate need.

“I am sure that every one of us can talk about the sudden inclusion of the needy around us in the social equation of care and support.

“I know I can tell you of people who have changed their view of the spaces of their community because they have sought out how they can help. They have upped their sociability overnight.

“We have to enter 2021 armed with vaccines and good social distancing, but we also have to enter it with the social strength of feeling we put together through the social kindness of 2020.”

The Big Issue has undergone a year of rapid innovation, building a subscription service from scratch, launching an app and being sold in several major retailers.

The latest development enables readers who buy the magazine to find their local vendor via a mapping tool, with 50% going directly to the vendor to support them at a time of crisis.

London vendor Anthony Okuyedi, 60, said: “I think it is a very good idea to let customers subscribe to help individual vendors, I know I have been having conversations with my customers about it.

“It’s not just helpful in lockdown, because sometimes we get customers who leave the area or change jobs and we lose those customers along the way.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Ian West / PA Wire.