Southampton Football Club and The Big Issue join forces to help improve the lives of vulnerable adults with a unique media partnership

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This week, The Big Issue and Southampton Football Club announced a unique partnership which aims to provide new opportunities for Big Issue vendors at the heart of their local community.

The partnership will see a special Southampton FC edition of The Big Issue sold by vendors across Southampton and the surrounding area, including Portswood, Lordshill, Bitterne, Ringwood, Lymington, Eastleigh, Romsey, Winchester, Salisbury and Isle of Wight (Newport, Ryde and Cowes) from Monday 7th August, and distributed as the official matchday programme at the club’s first game of the season versus Swansea City on Saturday 12th August. For those who live outside of this area it will be available from The Big Issue online shop from 7th August.

As part of the initiative, Big Issue vendors will also be provided with the opportunity to enrol in an eight week employability programme, run by Saints Foundation, which will equip them with job-ready skills and offer work placements across the club. Upon completion of the course, vendors will then be able to apply for long-term appointments with Southampton Football Club.

Improving the lives of vulnerable adults is at the core of both Saints Foundation and Big Issue’s missions – ‘Potential into Excellence’ and ‘Hand-Up, Not Hand-Out’, respectively – and in coming together, they hope to create long-term job prospects for Big Issue vendors in the local area.

Greg Baker, Head of Saints Foundation and Community Partnerships at Southampton Football Club,said: “Southampton is a club built around tradition and family, and this partnership is an exciting way to begin the new season and help drive further positive change amongst our community. We’re delighted to help provide adults in and around the area with opportunities and skills they need to take the first step towards a fruitful career – whether that be with Southampton Football Club or elsewhere – and we hope to see fans and residents alike get involved with the campaign to support local vendors.”

Big Issue vendor, Lee Barnes, said: ““When I first started to sell the magazine, I’d hide behind the magazine, but The Big Issue brought myself out a bit more, developed me a bit more, given me a bit of confidence and made me see that there may be a future beyond this.”

Vendor, Mark Morgan, said: “Since I started doing The Big Issue, it has got me my confidence back. I’ve got somewhere to live and I’m saving money I earn from it. I wouldn’t have had that chance of getting a normal job, being homeless. I don’t know where I’d be now if I hadn’t started doing it.”

Big Issue MD, Russell Blackman, said: ”The joining forces of Saints Foundation and The Big Issue reflects our shared values and commitment to a more equal society, supporting those whose lives have been blighted by poverty and a lack of opportunity.  Saints Foundation do invaluable work supporting adults across the community, tackling social exclusion and raising aspirations.

He added: “The Big Issue looks forward to developing a partnership that will look to harness the passion of the club and its fan base to inspire, support and further our mission to dismantle poverty through the creation of opportunity.”

The Big Issue special edition will available to buy from Monday 7th August, from Big Issue vendors across the Southampton and Hampshire area for £2.50.

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