The Big Issue magazine, known for its "hand up not a hand out" philosophy, launched an online shop last year, bigissueshop.com, selling products with a ‘social echo’. The good news is that the shop offers a really great selection of products including art, jewellery, homewares, clothing, accessories and toiletries which makes it an ideal source for both personal and gift shopping, that gives back in a big way.
The Big Issue founder, Lord John Bird, said: "By buying a product from us you are directly helping to better the lives of people who exist in conditions that desperately need improving. It’s a very special shop because what we sell helps. It helps you because it’s something that you want to buy. It helps us because it gives us income for our work. And it helps the people who make the stuff that we sell to you. We call it social trading because everything you buy has a social echo.”
The Big Issue shop sells its own branded products as well as those from other social businesses meaning, every item purchased has a positive social outcome. This could be through what the product is made from, who it is made by or where the profits end up.
Here is a selection of some items you will find in the bigissueshop along with the stories behind the social companies who make them.
Left to right: 1. Buy Rice Back’s tote bags, £10, made from recycled rice sacks saved from landfill in Tamil Nadu in India. Each purchase made prevents old sacks being dumped into landfill, contributes towards the fair wage paid by tailors in India and supports the education and community development projects of My Name is Kumar, the sister charity of Buy Rice Back.
2. The Soap Co. citrus hand wash, £12. The Soap Co. is part of CLARITY, the oldest surviving social enterprise in the UK. Founded in 1854, it has been supported by Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill, and was set up to employ, train and support people with disabilities in order to build skills, confidence and independence. By reinvesting 100% of profits, they aim to generate 60 new job opportunities every year.
3. ARTHOUSE Meath Never Forget tea towel, £9.50. ARTHOUSE Meath presents the skills and talents of over 70 men and women living with complex epilepsy, learning and physical difficulties. Without intervention some seizures can be life-threatening and all artists require varying degrees of support. ARTHOUSE Meath offers a safe working environment with The Meath Epilepsy Charity’s expert support. 100% of sales revenue goes towards sustaining and growing the enterprise.
4. Big Issue’s ‘FEMINIST’ T Shirt, £20 (available in white, grey or black). The T- Shirts are made from 100% cotton and profits will go towards helping the Big Issue support thousands of vulnerable people take control of their lives.
5. Damsel & Daughter's silver handmade purses, £10, have been up-cycled from leather and vegan leather off-cuts. Made in Hackney, the proceeds go towards providing feminine care kits to disadvantaged women in Hackney. These are distributed at local night shelters, The Manna Society and the Hackney Migrant Centre.
6. Studio 306 Collective's beautiful silver pendant, £30. Studio 306 Collective offers a creative space to people who are recovering from mental illness. They are a not-for-profit organization, so every penny made from selling their products goes straight back into the Collective. All their items are handmade in their Studio situated in Haringey, North London.
Be sure to remember the bigissueshop as the holidays start approaching!