Coronavirus: The Big Issue sellers to resume street sales with PPE and contactless card readers
29 June 2020, 07:32 | Updated: 29 June 2020, 08:56
The Big Issue sellers will return to the streets next week with personal protective equipment and contactless payment card machines to help keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 2,000 vendors were withdrawn on 20 March due to the coronavirus lockdown.
While the magazine has continued to sell through subscriptions and at supermarkets and other outlets, PPE is to be made available to vendors so they can resume sales on the streets in England, Wales and Scotland from 6 July.
The Big Issue Group says sellers will be given face masks, visors, latex gloves and anti-bacterial gel, as well as new bags for their magazines, so they can sell the magazine safely and customers can buy it with confidence.
The recent trend towards cashless payments is being sped up, and the price of The Big Issue is being increased to £3, with half going to the vendors.
Will Herbert, who usually sells the magazine in Islington, north London, welcomed the action "to keep us all safe in this drastic situation we find ourselves in at the moment".
He said: "I miss my customers dearly. I had some really lovely customers and I can't wait to see them."
Mike Danks, a vendor in Finsbury Park, north London, said he was "excited to get out and about and meet people again".
"The Big Issue has helped me to get back into socialising and meeting people and to get out and about. The staff have also helped me a great deal to sort out my life, which seems to have fallen apart for a while," he said.
Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, said thanks to donations the magazine has been able to support vendors while they have been off the streets.
:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
"We have undertaken a huge health and safety review and put in place a range of measures designed to ensure vendors are able to sell safely from July 6," he said.
"We want to ensure the public feel 100% safe when choosing to buy from our vendors and have followed the government COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
"The Big Issue exists to offer a hand up, and in keeping with that spirit our vendors are passionate about getting back to earning their own income and being in control of their own finances and lives once again."