The Big Issue launches new solution-focused magazine

Answers From Big Issue will offer jobs and training for homeless people while supporting positive social projects

The Big Issue is launching a new publication that will offer extra support to homeless individuals while promoting the good work of social projects around the UK.

Answers From Big Issue (AFBI) will be a monthly digital magazine, available from September, and will be created by a group of The Big Issue’s vendors, who will be trained up to become ‘correspondents’.

The vendors – homeless individuals who sell the original Big Issue magazine on the streets to earn an income – will be given office-based training to equip them with the new skills needed to produce the magazine, which will provide a new way for them to earn money.

In addition to submitting written articles to the magazine, correspondents will be trained to conduct interviews, use digital media and get to grips with new technology, ensuring their skill set is up to date. For example, they might be tasked with filming an interview on a mobile phone before editing the footage to produce an engaging video report.

AFBI’s content will aim to shine a light on the hundreds of projects and charities that work hard to address social problems within the UK and beyond. According to Big Issue founder John Bird, these organisations are “getting on with filling the place with solutions.”

“The world is full of answers,” he writes on the Big Issue website. “But finding them is often like pulling teeth.”

He cites Tyne and Wear-based project Living Sober as an example of the kind of ‘answer’ AFBI wants to highlight. Here, people struggling with alcohol issues are taken into housing association accommodation and kept sober while they work, volunteer and rebuild their lives. “Not only is it doing its job helping those struggling to gain control of their lives, it has a profound effect on the community at large. It removes highly expensive and troubled people from A&E and from causing grief in the streets,” Bird notes.

AFBI will take a very different format to the traditional Big Issue magazine. “This is not ‘The Big Issue Online’,”Bird says. “This is our chance to combine our need to help vendors with our need to help the world.”

Alongside the digital magazine, AFBI aims to develop a thriving web-based community which will link organisations involved in creating social solutions with businesses interested in facilitating that work. The site will allow groups to share knowledge and to appeal for resources in the form of funding, ideas, volunteers, goods and services.

“We want to enable these ‘answers’ to stop just surviving and start thriving,” said Bird.