The Big Issue is launching a new pilot scheme with LinkedIn to support the magazine’s vendors who have lost their livelihoods and sense of community as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
Those taking part remain unable to sell the magazine during the latest national lockdown as high streets are so quiet.
A number of vendors have received specialist training from LinkedIn to help them build their digital skills to reach an online customer base, find new opportunities and engage with LinkedIn’s community of 30 million UK members.
They have also received tablets donated by Dixons Carphone to help them access their LinkedIn profiles and online training.
The vendors will be able to reach out to new and existing customers on LinkedIn to let them know they can buy a copy of The Big Issue digitally.
Emma Ford, who usually sells the magazine in Victoria Station, London, said: “Covid-19 has affected me very badly. I haven’t had Covid-19 but it’s changed my life. It’s played with my mental health and has affected my confidence.
“I really hope the partnership with LinkedIn will help me a lot. We can’t sell the magazine now, so it’s amazing that we can sell online.
“We really need that income boost. No-one knows what will happen but any little help makes a big difference.”
Paul Cheal, group chief executive of the Big Issue Group, said: “Covid-19 has changed everything for everyone, but its impact has been keenly felt at The Big Issue.
“All earning potential was stripped from our 1,700 regular vendors who made their living selling The Big Issue on the streets of the UK.
“Now, as we find ourselves in our third national lockdown and footfall on the high street likely to be almost non-existent for the foreseeable future, we are fully focused on empowering our vendors with the digital skills they need to connect with their customers.
“The partnership with LinkedIn, which we welcome wholeheartedly, will not only help the vendors sell their magazine again, it will ease the feeling of social isolation experienced over the past year, allowing them to reconnect with their customers and community.”
Josh Graff, UK country manager of LinkedIn, said: “The pandemic has had an enormous impact on the livelihoods of Big Issue vendors and wreaked havoc on their ability to earn an income.
“We’re delighted that this pilot programme will give vendors a new, safe and much-needed opportunity to reconnect with customers and sell their magazines.
“We’re really excited about the potential of this scheme and hope that LinkedIn members across the UK also welcome the opportunity to buy from Big Issue vendors once again.”