The Big Issue – Homeless Charity Provides Recruitment Service

The Big Issue Homeless Charity Provides Recruitment Service

The Big Issue Group is calling on businesses to back a new UK wide recruitment service called ‘Big Issue Recruit’. The service offers people struggling to get into work, access to jobs by pairing them with personal ‘Job Coaches’.

While unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years, there are still 1.26 million unemployed people actively seeking work according to the report ‘Employment in the UK’ from the Office for National Statistics. Although most employers will be aware that for the first time, there are now more job vacancies to fill (1.3 million) than people seeking employment – which makes taking a different approach to bringing on board staff a sensible as well as a philanthropic option.

The Big Issue Group saysthere is an urgent need for an upskilled workforce and Big Issue Recruit (BIR), which aims to bring people from a more diverse range of backgrounds into the job market, is a new solution to this crisis.



BIR is a specialist recruitment service, dedicated to supporting people who face barriers to joining the workforce into sustainable employment. It is free to candidates, supporting individuals before, during and post-employment.

Job Coaches will work with candidates that range from prison leavers, caregivers, those with skills gaps, to people experiencing social, health, financial or digital barriers to work and of course, Big Issue magazine vendors keen to move into employment.

On signing up candidates are partnered with a personal Job Coach, to understand and determine their needs and goals. Building confidence, skills and resilience and coaching individuals through the selection process, to secure roles.

Job Coaches will work with candidates to establish a relationship with their new employer and support them in their new role and career.


Seeking employers

BIG is seeking partner employers to support this new, innovative service by using BIR to fill their vacancies and bring new candidates into the labour market.  In return, BIR will offer:

  • Tailored support to hiring managers to prepare them to work with people with complex needs and best sustain their placements.

  • Capacity building post hire to support candidates in their placements, whilst they settle into their new roles.

  • Management and promotion of employer vacancies through

  • The ability to demonstrate the social value of the investment with an annual impact report, based on SROI methodology, which evidence’s ESG commitments

The word from the streets

James Bradbury, former Big Issue vendor in Leicester and Big Issue Recruit’s first candidate, said: "I was homeless, on the streets for two years before going to sell The Big Issue. I needed support with everything, Big Issue Group helped build my confidence.

“The staff got me involved with all different types of events, I sold at Network Rail’s Milton Keynes office for World Homelessness Day which I really enjoyed. I met lots of different people. They helped me get a card reader so that my sales went up.”


Now in construction

Bradbury continued: "I've just started a training course to go into construction work. I’ve got good customer service skills and feel much more confident about getting into employment now.”


 “In line with our new five year strategy of changing lives through enterprise, we are committed to supporting even more people living in poverty into earning or working with employers across the UK.”

– Paul Cheal, 

Group CEO, The Big Issue Group


Ethical recruitment

“Our mission is to create innovative solutions through enterprise, to unlock social and economic opportunity,” continues The Big Issue Group’s Cheal.  “Big Issue Recruit is a reliable, ethical, end-to-end method of recruitment which reduces the risk and cost of candidate churn. We are seeking partners who want to create employment pathways and work with us to fill their employment vacancies, diversify their workforce and create significant social value.”

Paul Armstrong, Chairman of The Permira Foundation, a Founding Partner organisation of BIR, says: “Big Issue Recruit is a ground-breaking initiative driven by Big Issue Group’s proven track-record, vast knowledge and expertise in engaging with those often excluded and combining this with businesses in a partnership to help people into employment.”

 Jack Parsons, CEO of Youth Group, and Big Issue Group Ambassador, who is throwing his support behind the venture, says: “We have to do more to help people through these difficult times and support them to feel like they can 'win' at work, in their communities and in society.”

 The Big Issue Recruit aims to offer a personalised digital-first nationwide service with physical hubs across the UK, leveraging Big Issue Group’s expertise of working on a national basis.

Picture: Big Issue Recruit is working with people facing barriers to employment into work such as James Bradbury a former Big Issue vendor who is studying to work in construction. James is pictured here with Big Issue Frontline worker, Shane Ludlam.


Article written by Cathryn Ellis
13th October 2022


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