Concerns have been raised after a deal has been announced allowing people who are neither homeless – or at risk of finding themselves so – to sell the Big Issue for the first time.
The Scottish edition of the magazine will now also be distributed by social enterprise KibbleWorks, according to the Herald newspaper, which will in turn set up wholesale deals for churches, charities and community groups.
KibbleWorks, which is based in Paisley near Glasgow will also take over distribution of 9,000 magazines a week to drop off in cities and towns across Scotland where they can be sold on to Big Issue vendors.
John Downie, director of public affairs for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, told the Herald: "In principle, this sounds like a good idea which could help the Big Issue reach a wider audience. "However, I’m sure charities will want assurances that they wouldn’t be encroaching on the livelihoods of individual street vendors."
The deal will also see KibbleWorks providing employment support and training to Big Issue in Scotland vendors to help them find work.
The Big Issue was launched in 1991 by Gordon Roddick and John Bird and aims to give ‘a hand up, not a hand out’ to vulnerably housed people.
My own concern in regard to this move, is that it will regrettably undermine the hard work, and it is hard work that an individual vendor puts into selling the Big Issue magazine on the streets, and lets not forget that the Big Issue is supposedly and generally assumed to be a street newspaper. One other important point to remember in the context of this posting is that the Big Issue in Scotland is a separate concern from it’s English edition, John Bird sold that as a franchise many years ago.