The Big Issue and Fox & Hare Support Sellers by Sharing True Success Stories in Time of Crisis

With footfall on high streets significantly down, the campaign seeks to shine a light on the ways sellers are supported.

On World Homeless Day, The Big Issue (TBI) has launched a digital campaign to highlight the support that Big Issue sellers receive from the Frontline team at the organisation in a bid to help boost sales of the magazine. The Big Issue, which offers homeless and vulnerably housed people across the UK a means by which to earn a legitimate income, took the decision to safeguard its network of sellers and the public by asking that they stop selling on streets across the whole of the UK with immediate effect on 20th March. On Monday 6th July, Big Issue sellers returned to selling the magazine across the country. However, with footfall significantly lower on many high streets, every sale counts and support from the public is needed now, more than ever. The campaign, called ‘The Big Opportunity’, developed in partnership with creative agency, Fox & Hare, seeks to shine a light on the support that Big Issue sellers receive from the team on the ground in order to pursue their ambitions and passions.

The Big Issue team of over 60 frontline staff work with sellers in the following ways:

  • Connection to specialist support services, access to safe and secure accommodation, support to gain official ID which facilitates registering for many services including obtaining a bank account
  • Access to The Big Issue Vendor Support Fund for tools or items sellers might need to improve their lives Support with money management and digital and financial inclusion
  • Help with exploring career opportunities by helping sellers to recognise transferable skills, update their CVs, search and apply for jobs and with interview coaching
  • Back to work programmes, including corporate vendor placements and partnerships with organisations where there may be opportunities for sellers to take on roles within the business

The campaign consists of a series of 12 success stories that show the opportunity that selling The Big Issue provides people with for a chance to change their lives and realise their ambitions. The stories will be shared across the organisation’s website and social channels for four weeks. The first story, to be shared on Saturday 10th October, World Homeless Day, tells the story of Big Issue seller Martin McKenzie, 39, from London. He’s now been able to earn a living outside of selling the magazine and has aspirations to expand his mobile bike repair business. Martin has been supported to obtain a passport for ID and provided him with a card reader so he can accept contactless payments. Martin has also shared his mechanical skills in The Big Issue magazine’s weekly Seller Expert column. Martin said: “I can turn my hand to anything. I’m educating myself in electric bikes at the minute so I can have a general understanding of how the battery packs work, and the motors, and how to rechain them and so on. The bigger picture for the business is a rickshaw. The Big Issue has always led to better things for me – it’s been there to help me get back on my feet a few times now, and I’m determined to get back on my feet this time too.” Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said: “With city and town centres a good deal quieter than usual, it’s very tough out there at the moment for Big Issue sellers. We felt it important to show people how life-changing our support can prove to be. Not only do we provide people with a means to earn a legitimate income by selling the magazine but we work closely with each and every seller to help them on their way to pursuing ambitions that they may have. “We ask that you please be a part of that process of giving someone The Big Opportunity they need and deserve by buying a copy of the magazine. We would encourage anyone who wants to support us who doesn’t have a local seller to support The Big Issue’s mission to help people in poverty improve their lives, by buying a subscription to the magazine.” Ben Fox, Strategy and Planning Director at Fox & Hare, said: “Following the success of #TheBigMissYou creative campaign at the start of lockdown, Fox & Hare wanted to continue supporting The Big Issue’s mission even further by championing the huge effort that frontline staff provide in order to improve vendors lives, as well as promoting a handful of the vendors themselves who are proving that hard work pays off in the long-term. “There are so many opportunities for vendors and it’s all possible because of their frontline staff, so we wanted to share the powerful message of the #TheBigOpportunity to encourage more vendors to join up. Now more than ever, The Big Issue needs support to keep this life-changing work moving, so we’re urging everyone to subscribe to the digital edition of the magazine and play their part too.”

To read more about Martin and the other 11 stories being shared over the next four weeks, click here.

Social impact during Covid-19 can determine your brand’s future

At the end of March 2020, Mike Barry of A Blueprint for Better Business wrote a post for Ethical Corporation outlining how businesses can help shape a sustainable world, post Covid-19.

In it, he observed, “Post-COVID-19, we will not see a blind eye turned as it was to the banks in 2008-2012 as they crept back to the old ways on the back of taxpayer support. The companies that prosper in the next decade will be the ones that have taken the management-speak of ‘purpose’ and turned it into reality.” 

The ‘purpose’ Mike refers to is your reason for being and what you stand for above all else; what you’re doing to make the world a better place – your social impact. 

There’s been a growing trend of consumers turning toward brands with a purpose for some time. In 2018, a study by Nielsen showed that 81% of global consumers say it’s extremely or very important for companies to implement programs to improve the environment. And 73% say they’ll either definitely or probably change their consumption habits to lessen their impact on the environment. 

Now, though, in the middle of a global crisis, people are paying even closer attention to what brands are doing around social impact, as was evident with the unwanted media attention for Wetherspoons and Kroger in the U.S, and the positive attention for Gary Neville and his move to donate 176 hotel beds to NHS workers

While social impact should never be implemented as a short-term measure to capitalise on the fact all eyes are on you during a pandemic, it’s a good time to think about marketing not as a way to generate sales, but a chance to tell the story of your long-term purpose. 

A good example of a brand striking the right tone during the time of Covid-19 is Nike. At a time when our daily routines were taken away from us, Nike helped unite people while sticking with its theme of inspiration and determination to get customers active. 

It’s Play for the World campaign was accompanied by practical ways for people to workout at home. 

At the same time, the brand has pledged support to grassroots organisations through its ‘Nike Community Impact Fund’ and helped healthcare workers by manufacturing PPE.

Why does it work? Because Nike has kept its message authentic and practised what it preached. 

And that’s what consumers want… for you to be part of the solution in a time of need.   

How brands act today, during the pandemic, will impact customer trust and loyalty in the future.

How will your brand look on the other side?