Big Issue vendors move into employment with club

By SFC Media Tue 23 Jan Saints Foundation

At the beginning of the 2017/18 season, Saints Foundation, the official charity of Southampton Football Club joined forces with The Big Issue to provide a unique opportunity for its vendors.

Alongside creating a bespoke world-first ‘Big Issue’ matchday programme, which was sold by vendors across the Hampshire region and at Southampton’s opening-day Premier League fixture at St Mary’s, vendors were also given the opportunity to enrol in an intensive employability programme run by Saints Foundation in conjunction with St Mary’s Training Centre.

Big Issue MD Russell Blackman said: “We've enjoyed working with Saints Foundation from the get go. They share our ethos of giving a hand up, not a hand out, to the most vulnerable in society, supporting those whose lives have been blighted by poverty and a lack of opportunity.

“The news that Gary, June, Julie and Aaron have impressed the team at the Foundation so much that they have secured permanent positions at the grounds is fantastic. We are not only proud and pleased for the vendors, but very grateful to Saints Foundation for their on-going commitment as part of our strategic partnership. They do invaluable work supporting adults across the community, tackling social exclusion and raising aspirations, and our values sit closely side by side.”

He added: “We are delighted with how it has all gone and are looking forward to seeing our partnership with Saints Foundation go from strength to strength to further our mission to dismantle poverty through the creation of opportunity.”

The aim of the programme was to equip the vendors, and other adults from our local community, with job-ready skills, and offer them work placements across Southampton Football Club.

Key aspects covered within the employability programme were a Level 1 accreditation in Customer Service, CV writing workshops and mock interviews.

Upon completing the course, the Big Issue vendors were given the opportunity to apply for long-term positions within the club, with several also moving on to complete a Level 1 accreditation in Understanding Stewarding at Spectator Events.

We are proud to announce that four of the programme participants – Gary Jackson, June Fullerton, Julie Cherry and Aaron New – have moved into employment within the club, with three starting roles within the stewarding department, and one gaining employment with Halo Conferences and Events.

Gary, who was unemployed for 18 months before he secured work with the Big Issue, said: “Southampton Football Club and Saints Foundation have given me the inspiration and emotional support to completely change my outlook on life. I’ve begun to believe in myself again, and I’ve been inspired to always do my best.”

Improving the lives of adults at risk and the poorest members of society is at the core of both Saints Foundation and the Big Issue’s missions, and thus we are hugely delighted with the success of this programme.

If you know someone who could benefit from the employability programme, please contact and to hear more news from the Saints Foundation or register in its 2018 volunteering programme follow the links below.

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