Southampton stars Nathan Remond, Oriol Romeu, Manolo Gabbiadini and Florin Gardos joined Big Issue vendors in Winchester this week to sell a special Saints edition of the magazine, as part of the launch of a unique partnership between the two organisations.
The two organisations have joined forces to provide new opportunities for Big Issue vendors at the heart of their local community.
The four Saints stars took up a different kind of pitch in Winchester city centre, trying their hand at selling the special edition of the award-winning weekly entertainment and current affairs magazine alongside local Big Issue vendors.
The special edition of The Big Issue is being sold by vendors for £2.50 across Southampton and the surrounding area, including Portswood, Lordshill, Bitterne, Ringwood, Lymington, Eastleigh, Romsey, Winchester, Salisbury and Isle of Wight (Newport, Ryde and Cowes) and is also being distributed as the official matchday programme at the club’s first game of the season, against Swansea City, on Saturday. For those who live outside of this area, it is also available to buy from The Big Issue online shop.
As part of the initiative, Big Issue vendors, in collaboration with The Big Issue Foundation, will also be provided with the opportunity to enroll 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.
Saints midfielder and England International Nathan Redmond said: “I could see how hard these guys have to work – they’re out in all weather. It’s not easy and I have huge respect for them. It was great to meet the guys and be involved in a partnership where two great organisations like Southampton FC and the Big Issue can achieve so much together.”
Greg Baker, Head of Saints Foundation and Community Partnerships at Southampton Football Club, said: “We’re incredibly proud to partner with The Big Issue. The launch of a special-edition magazine, which is on sale throughout the week and at Southampton’s Premier League match against Swansea City, marks just the start of our relationship, which will also see existing vendors undertake an employability programme, delivered by Saints Foundation, with the end goal of them gaining suitable and long-term employment at Southampton FC.”
Big Issue vendor Lee Barnes said: “It’s been amazing to meet the players, and the day has been full of lots of handshakes and smiles. I have never sold as many Big Issues in such a short period of time. It’s been absolutely class.
“What we’ve done today has brought a lot of focus to the Big Issue and hopefully that focus will carry on throughout the partnership. I am excited to be selling at matchday this Saturday and, having met some of the players, it means even more to me now.''
Fellow Big Issue vendor Mark Morgan said: “I enjoyed it today. It was nerve-wracking, but I’m glad I did it. The players made me feel at ease and that was a big part of it for me.
“The public loved it and explaining to them what it all means, about the partnership… it seemed to come across well. I’m looking forward to matchday. It’s going to be a one-off experience, something I have never done before.”
Kev Collick, who is a local vendor in the area, said: “It’s been amazing. It’s been great to have professional football players come and join us selling today.
“A lot of people don’t realise what we need to do to sell copies and it’s been great to open people’s eyes to what it takes and to raise awareness of the Big Issue in the local area.”
For more information, visit bigissue.com.