Big Issue celebrates 200 million sales

In almost 25 years since its founding, the Big Issue, a magazine to help the homeless has changed lives and inspired over 100 similar street papers around the world. Emily Wither reports.

It first went to press nearly 25 years ago…and has sold 200 million copies.

It’s also inspired 100 different street papers in 36 different countries

The Big Issue – a magazine to help the homeless earn a living – has also become leading campaigner both for them and for

vulnerable people in insecure housing.

The number of people sleeping rough in Great Britain has risen every year since 20-10

Those behind the magazine say they’ve helped thousands working on the simple ‘A hand up, not a hand out’ mantra.

Geroge is one of them.

He once had a job, a mortgage and a partner – when it all fell apart and he had no family left to call on – he found himself on the streets.


“It’s helped me financially that’s for sure but at that time I was a relative stranger in London. I didn’t know it that well and one of the things the magazine does is as well as giving you some financial support it gives you a social network.”

To celebrate the sales milestone street artist Ben Eine has designed three collectors’ edition covers.

The founder of the magazine John Bird says his model works all over the world:

“When you take this model to Africa, where they’re full of self-help, when you take it to people in Taiwan or people in Japan or people in Korea, they’re all saying yes because they’ve all got the work ethic, so all we’re doing is exporting the work ethic.”

John first found himself homeless aged five.

He says when he slept rough in the 60s, there were fewer young people on the streets….now there’s hundreds.

Associated Links

  • Big Issue
  • Poverty
  • Street newspapers
  • Busking
  • Homelessness
  • Humanitarian aid
  • Socioeconomics
  • The Big Issue
  • Wither
  • Emily