Big Issue vendors return to the streets today, Monday 6th July, to sell the magazine for the first time since the lockdown more than three months ago.
Almost 2,000 vendors in England, Scotland and Wales are returning to their pitches, with new safety measures in place.
They have been given personal protective equipment and contactless card payment equipment.
They stopped selling the magazine on the streets on 20th March, but sales have continued by subscription or in supermarkets and other stores.
Lord John Bird, founder of the Big Issue said: “It fills us with pride and joy to announce that Big Issue vendors are back out selling as of today.
“We want to thank everyone who has supported us and vendors over the past 15 weeks. It’s a simple fact that we couldn’t have got through such a perilous time without the overwhelming generosity everyone has shown us.
“After carrying out a rigorous health and safety review, we have put in place a range of measures designed to ensure vendors are able to sell safely. As a result, you will see that vendors now have visors, latex gloves, face masks, anti-bacterial gel, bags to carry the magazines safely and will be carrying contactless readers where possible.”
Jim Pelham, who usually sells the magazine outside Cross Keys Shopping Centre in Salisbury, said: “I have missed the people, for sure. The social interaction that I actually thrive on, the basic day to day camaraderie. I miss them.
“Going back to sell the magazine will help. Going out to work, especially something where you essentially have got to think about it like a businessman, completely changes your view on things.”
Earl John Charlton, who sells the magazine at Newcastle Central Station, said: “I am most looking forward to running down the road at six o’clock in the morning to get to the office.
“I’ll be cycling in to the office to buy my magazine and it’ll take me down the Tyne – I’ve been shielding, so all I’ve seen is my back wall for months. The fresh air, the cycle and getting back to work is what I’m most looking forward to.”
Lee Welham, who usually sells at the Round Church, Cambridge, said: “Now it’s about loneliness for me. I’ve still got an inner circle of friends but after all these weeks it has been very, very tough for me. Just being on my own in a house all myself has been difficult.”
Picture: Big Issue Vendors Will Herbert (left) and Mike Danks wearing the PPE that they will be using from today, Monday 6th July, when they return to selling the magazine for the first time since lockdown. (Big Issue/PA).