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Big Issue calls for public support as restrictions deal ‘a devastating blow’ for vendors

Pictured: Vendor, John Williams in Swansea

The Big Issue (TBI) is calling upon the public to support the organisation as 100 vendors are being forced off the streets as Wales goes into lockdown.

Christmas week is traditionally the busiest week of the year for Big Issue vendors, but 100 vendors in Wales will be unable to sell the magazine on the street as the new strain of the Covid-19 virus caused governments around the UK to backtrack on Christmas plans.

First Minister Mark Drakeford told people to “stay at home” after urgent talks with ministers over a new variant of coronavirus.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, also announced the newly created Tier 4 measures mean residents in all 32 boroughs of the English capital, the city of London and across the south-east of England have been told to stay home. All non-essential retail must also close while ‘Christmas bubbles’ are now limited to Christmas Day only and now comprise of only three households. Mainland Scotland will go into a three-week lockdown from Boxing Day also affecting vendors sales. In other areas of the country, vendors remain on the streets.

John Williams, 52, who sells the magazine in Killay, Swansea, told The Big Issue that the Tier 4 announcement made over the weekend has been a huge blow.

“I was really looking forward to Christmas week as it’s the busiest week of the year. I love seeing all of my regulars and wishing them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year but now I can’t. Financially it’s a huge blow too, as normally the money made from sales over the next couple of weeks see me through the tough month of January. This year has been a real struggle, hopefully next year will be better though it can’t be much worse than this year has been!”.

Long-time vendor Steve Cornthwaite, 39, who sells the magazine in Caerleon, Newport, is now gearing up to face to festive season alone after plans to spend Christmas with his family are now unable to go ahead.

“The past four weeks have been good for sales , but now Covid has come again this has changed everything. Since March this has been affecting my sales, so we were looking forward to another great week this week. But now this new lock down had completely changed my plans. I’d been hoping to go and see family on Christmas day, but instead I’ll have to stay at home and keep to myself.”

Lord John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, said: “With hundreds of our vendors unable to sell, we once again urgently need your support to survive and be there for our vendors beyond Christmas. If you can’t reach your local vendor, please buy a copy of the Christmas special from our Shop, subscribe or make a donation, to enable us to be there for our vendors, both now and in the future.”

If you can’t reach your regular vendor, you can buy a copy from bigissueshop.com for £4, 50% of net proceeds will go directly to a fund which provides emergency payments for vendors.