26 Sep 2022

Big Issue Group launches new specialist recruitment service to support people who face barriers to employment

Big Issue Recruit is a ground-breaking initiative driven by Big Issue Group’s proven track-record, vast knowledge and expertise.
Paul Armstrong
Managing Director at Permira and Chairman of the Permira Foundation
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• The recruitment service is person-centred, supporting individuals pre, during and post-employment

• It is completely free to access for candidates who will gain access to tailored support by dedicated professionals to secure job roles

• Big Issue Recruit welcomes candidates from any background and are working with prison leavers, caregivers, those with skills gaps, to people experiencing social, health, financial or digital barriers to work

On Monday 26th September, Big Issue Group launched a new recruitment service called ‘Big Issue Recruit’. The service offers people who are facing poverty and exclusion access to their desired job roles by providing specialist support and job coaching to prepare them for work.

In the wake of the cost-of-living crisis and record levels of poverty and inequality, there are now close to 15 million people in the UK trapped in poverty*.

But while unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years, with 1.26m unemployed people actively seeking work*, for the first time there are now more job vacancies to fill (1.3m)*, than people seeking employment.

There is an urgent need for an upskilled workforce. 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, the latest innovative venture from Big Issue Group, is a specialist recruitment service, dedicated to supporting people who face barriers to joining the workforce into sustainable employment. It is a person-centred service and free to candidates, supporting individuals pre, during and post-employment.

Job Coaches will work with candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds, all of whom are experiencing poverty. The candidates will 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 their desired roles.
Finally, Job Coaches will work with candidates to establish a great relationship with their new employer and support them in their new role and career.

Big Issue Recruit is seeking partner employers committed to recruiting a diverse workforce, and to tackling poverty and inequality. The BIR team will work closely with employers throughout the hiring process, to understand their needs and ensure the successful placement of candidates.

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.

"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.”

Lavinia Neda, a Big Issue vendor turned Head Chef at a vegan café in Cardiff, said: "I learnt so much through Big Issue Recruit. I attended creative writing workshops, barista workshops and also did a week’s work experience at a housing association.

"I now work full-time at Wild Thing café as the head chef. Big Issue Group helped me to grow in confidence and develop my English language skills. I am so happy, I feel confident and most importantly I feel safe now and secure."

Paul Cheal, Group CEO of The Big Issue Group, said: “For over 30 years, Big Issue Group has worked to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity in a number of ways, from selling the magazine as a Big Issue vendor to investing in social enterprises like our own.

“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.

“Our mission is to create innovative solutions through enterprise, to unlock social and economic opportunity. By 2027, we aim for up to 11 million people every year to engage with Big Issue Group products and be positively impacted by Big Issue Group services. Big Issue Recruit is a further step forward in that direction.”

Paul Armstrong, Chairman of the Permira Foundation, a Founding Partner organisation of BIR, said: “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. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Big Issue Recruit, as this programme goes from strength to strength.”

Jack Parsons, CEO of Youth Group, and Big Issue Group Ambassador, who is throwing his support behind the venture, said: “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 – which is exactly what Big Issue Group is doing.

“I’m really excited to see the impact Big Issue Recruit has over the next few years, the scheme has come at a pivotal time, with many people still facing barriers to employment despite record job vacancies. The work Big Issue Group do to support marginalised people has never been as important as it is today.”

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 for over 30 years in the very near future.

If you would like to sign-up to use the service as a candidate or to learn more about how your business can support people with barriers to employment into work, visit jobs.bigissue.com, email jobs@bigissue.com or call 0207 526 3200 and ask for the Big Issue Recruit team.

*Source: Employment in the UK - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)