Big Issue sets up offices in Islington

Picture credit: Stephen Robertson

The national charity closed its Vauxhall doors after 15 years to open headquarters in Finsbury Park on Monday 26 October.

“When we moved to Vauxhall it was a lot cheaper than it is nowadays,” said the foundation’s CEO Stephen Robertson. “It was unaffordable for us to stay, as much as we would have liked to.”

The search for a home was “very stressful and tiring,” said Team Leader Nadia Manganello. “You can imagine the prices and spaces available for a social enterprise like ours that doesn’t have a massive budget.”

The government estimates there are around 7,500 rough sleepers annually in London, alongside the nearly 20,000 households that they classify as homeless. There are roughly 300 Big Issue sellers in the capital, increasing to around 600 during the winter months.

Ms Manganello highlighted how disruptive the change of office could be for some of the homless people that the charity supports, saying: “It’s a big change to their routine. For them a change of place, a change of journey, creates instability, on top of all their personal issues and troubles.”

The cost of travelling to the Islington office may also pose a problem for those who have based their livelihood around the south London premises. Big Issue sellers make £1.25 profit per magazine sold, so they would need to sell four issues just to break even on a return tube fare of £4.60.

“We have vendors who are not happy with the move,” Ms Manganello said. “We just try to keep them calm and encourage them not to give up.”

The charity’s first event after moving will be the annual London Night Walk.

Photo credit: Stephen Robertson