Helping The Homeless or A SCAM?
By Andrew Coates.
Edited By Uncle Monty.
I take great pride in this article because I know it
will upset many people as bubbling from the surface
the Big Issue seems a great concept of letting home-
less people help themselves instead of solely relying
on handouts. Reading in between the lines it actually
becomes a horror.
Big Issue: History, the silent partner,
operations and public misconceptions: I
done some Google research on the Big Issue
that is a search for opinions on the Big Issue.
Common misconceptions (in very brief) is the
Big Issue was a non-profit magazine founded
by John Bird for homeless people to beg for
money to buy food under the front
of selling a magazine.
Even going on their website I can quote John Bird,
founder & editor-in-chief of The Big Issue, has
written to David Cameron.
There is a silent founder - Gordon Roddick.
He was inspired by visiting New York and seeing
homeless people selling a newspaper called Street
News. It was later when he flew back to London
that he met John Bird, a homeless man (whether
or not they met or knew each other before I
don’t know) with experience in the print trade.
The reason they chose a magazine instead of a news-
paper isn’t known (unless published in a book some-
where I don’t know about) though perhaps they
were worried it would seem like copying the idea
too much (from New York's Street News). Perhaps
they wanted to emulate the concept with something
new to kinda re-invent the wheel or perhaps Bird
has (previous) experience in the magazine industry.

When they founded their organisation it wasn’t a non-
profit, charity or social enterprise … but a for-profit
private limited company with shareholders. I would
argue why anyone who wanted to create a social good
cause business without making it a non-profit.
This was in 1991.
It wasn’t until 1995 that they founded the Big Issue
Foundation as a charity! I assume this was to downplay
any criticism. They did NOT, however, decide to close
the company and move the operations to the charity.
On Wikipedia, the Big Issue is attributed to being
published, owned or run by the Big Issue Foundation
and not the Company. On their website (bigissue.com)
it consolidates both the private and business element
of operations (i.e. the magazine) with the charitable
elements (the work they supposedly do with the
homeless) as the footer contains registration numbers
of the charity, first, and below that the company
number. This, I assume appears that the company
is non-profit, when indeed it's not.
Lets read their "about" page … they claim the Big Issue
is one of the largest leading social businesses – they say
the organisation is made up of the limited company (that
basically does everything in regards to the magazine)
and the charity which helps the homeless people.
(By the way) John Bird didn’t receive a single award
or honour until he was in the process of setting up the
Big Issue Foundation when he opened the floodgates
to the foundation for his own benefit or was it for
the thousands of homeless people?
Big Issue: Social Enterprise?
Recently, the Big Issue was awarded the Social Enterprise
Mark although it falls completely outside the remit. The
Big Issue isn’t a Social Enterprise, it is a commercial
business and a charity. A Social Enterprise generally
falls in between the two … it doesn’t have all the
advantages of a charity such as in regards to taxation.
Furthermore, a Social Enterprise defined by the Social
Enterprise Coalition (SEC) is a business with a social pur-
pose at the very heart of what they do, and the profits
they make are re-invested towards achieving that pur-
pose. Funnily enough they are given as an example to
Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen, and the fair-trade
chocolate company Divine Chocolate. (Where are the
homeless in all of this?) . It seems to me that the
Big Issue Foundation pays more money
to the Big Issue Company than vice versa.
Big Issue: Some analysis.
The Big Issue Company Limited has a share capital
of 3 shares at a £1 each. There are two classes: 1 share
is type A and 2 shares is type B. John Anthony Bird
holds 1 share that is class A that gives him full voting
rights. The other 2 shares which are class B (no
normal voting rights) is held by Gordon Roddick (co-
founder) and Nigel Kershaw. None of the share capital
is owned by the Foundation! The Foundations latest
accounts show that just £750- of its income were
from corporate sources which meant that the Company
had not donated any money whatsoever (other than
perhaps this amount; although it could come from
elsewhere; unless it was wrongly grouped to general
donations) to the Foundation, furthermore, it holds
no shares so doesn’t benefit from a dividend.
Looking through one of their accounts (2008/09)
some worrying signs appear. The company charged
the charity £232,480- for occupancy and other services
(approx. a quarter of their entire income), was owed a
further £1,931- and the charity charged the company
£24,054- for goods and services provided. Which ever
way we want to view this it is clear both the company
and the charity is located in the same place, share a
director (Anthony John Bird) who founded it and share
resources. If they share a building, with a company
owning it or leasing it, and the charity subleasing space
from the company, this is understood, but what raises
greater questions for me personally is how each other
are invoicing each other for goods and services.
This is black hat bordering on
fraud for charities are under
extreme scrutiny unlike non-profits and Social Enterprises.
The trustees must not have external interests that (are in)
conflict. I would say this does exactly that. One side of the
situation is a co-founder, director and shareholder who
owns one third of the company and is the only one with
voting rights (most powerful in the company) and on the
other side he is a director and trustee of the charity.
How does this two-faced organisation help the homeless?
One seems like a very greedy outfit which even grabs alot
of cash from the charity side of operations while the other
is some charity which isn’t run in its own right but is
dictated from this private business.
Big Issue: Does it help homeless people, … really?
I am not certain so I am relying on blog contributors
to say whether they or someone they know had any
significant help from this organisation. It would be
best to highlight the work the charity does (if any) …
credit where credit is due, etc.
Big Issue: What I think …
This is to be known as The Big Statement
(Begin Freedom of Thought and Expression).
Instead of a homeless person setting up a magazine
to help fellow homeless people take ownership in their
lives and gain shelter by utilizing each and every home-
less persons entrepreneurial spirit to turn their lives
around … the reality is a little too much different.
First, Anthony John Bird wasn’t alone. The Big Issue
idea was actually an idea of Gordon Roddick after
getting inspiration out in the States from Street
News (founded in1989) and distributed by homeless
people . When he flew back to London, as I said
earlier, he met John Bird who I can only assume
was a nobody, ex-printing trade experience, after
hitting rock bottom wanted a selfish way to claw
his way up to the top. (He was also a convicted
criminal, who has self-reformed himself!).
The Big Issue Foundation doesn’t have any shares
in the commercial business; Bird, who is the most
powerful person in the commercial business and a trustee
of the Foundation, and even shares the Petty Cash on an
IOU basis it seems (company loaned the charity some
petty cash interest free).
The charity’s aims is in the description of general home-
less people (otherwise it would be refused at the Charity
Commission as supporting clients of a commercial business
only isn’t a charitable purpose), however, its activities/
objectives clearly states about Big Issue Vendors only. It
would be interesting for people to comment if they have
any experience of whether the foundation helps home-
less people in general or a closed shop solely for vendors?
The Big Issue website etc., is shared between the company
and charity; and it appears to me that they are misleading
people thinking that the Big Issue is a charitable organisation
(I think they even have the Social Enterprise Coalition
(SEC) fooled!) when indeed it is not.
Also, buying a magazine (or a street newspaper) off a home-
less person where you know they will receive a cut seems
a charitable gesture! (Such is not so at the Big Issue).
Most people aren’t aware that its NOT a non-profit or
charity doing the magazine and the co-ordination of the
distribution but a commercial business that is profiting
off using homeless people to shift its magazines!
I cannot think of Big Issue as any more than a commercial
business with a fake social charity front on; where Bird was
only in for it not to help homeless people as (he) made out
to be but for himself to climb up the rope from a home-
less nobody with prior printing experience to someone
worthy of a sustainable job, recognition, awards and
an honour.
This isn’t charitable to run a nice little printing business
with a small charity on the side to tick the corporate
responsibility box and mislead others into greater reader-
ship figures. Lets face it, after digging away into the Big
Issue fields, we find remains that lead to solely one con-
clusion ... the homeless aspect was not a charitable
element to help people, but was a USP for the commercial
business of recruiting agents (known by the Big Issue
as vendors; lets face it the homeless are everywhere
sadly, and no one else would be an agent making (far)
less than minimum wage) to sell what can be seen as
now a very successful magazine which was unlikely
to have made it otherwise.
Using the traditional method of a distributor was a
bad option as if they didn’t sell in shops they would be
returned unsold. This remains very expensive, as your
overheads, product costs and distributor fees would still
need to be paid while you have stacks of what are now
back issue copies of magazines you cannot get rid of.
One of the evaluations I want to complete is who had
gained the most? The homeless or people like John
Bird (and his lackies)?
At what cost? Is getting homeless people to distribute a
commercial magazine with the promise of making some
money to help their situation, exploitation, or a helpful
inspirational change to them? Does the Foundation they
set up do enough to help these people or is it solely
signposting vendors to existing services?
If you are going to set up what I call a social change
organisation, whatever industry and idea you have, at
least 2 in 3 elements has to be about helping the people/
cause you have designed to help. Whether you get a
knighthood, recognition and a huge salary, becomes
all bonuses, you shouldn’t be aiming for that but keep-
ing true to how the organisation is supposed to work.
It doesn’t (in my eyes) work in reverse… you cannot
aim to be a success in the commercial aspect and
personal gain of honours and recognition while
hoping that maybe, just maybe, it can also
do abit of help to a select few.
I am undecided whether this is a proper social venture
as made out in mainstream media, etc., or a false front
that can be described only as a scam or sham. I will let
you the reader decide (oh yeah, you may research
the above, not just take my word for it).
Whistleblowing model sacked for revealing
£300,000 'theft' from jail charity. The Charity Commission’s
Check Out The Latest Charity Details
Given By The Big Issue To The UK Charity
Commission As of January 18th, 2011.
"You don’t have to be homeless to sell the Big Issue,
that’s a common misconception. It’s what you’d
call it’s unique selling-point, how it is marketed.
The Big Issue has nowt to do with the homeless, it’s
a front and a scam to line the pockets of John Bird.
BTW John Bird is a cunt. Ultra Left-wing Communist
when it suited him. Now he’s made lots of ££££s out
of other people’s misfortune he being a far right-wing
Nazi bastard suits him. Oh, yeah, I hate the guy."
Comment by Big Issue Seller —
July 8, 2010 @ 11:58 am
:: Feedback & Comments ::
London 2011: Homeless men forced to sleep in bins.
David Cohen and Ross Lydall.
“Big Issue sellers are 13 times more likely to be attacked
in the streets than other members of the public,” stated
Richard Brown, managing director of The Big Issue
North. Source: The Pavement, Aug. 2oo5, p.5.
Japanese Baptist leader says statistics hide
impact of homelessness Tokyo. (ENInews).
Being homeless cuts people off from the rest of humanity,
says a Japanese pastor who heads an award-winning non-
profit organization for those without a roof over their heads.
"We need to support those homeless people in both physical
and relational poverty by providing them with their material
needs and helping to restore their human ties," said the
Rev'd Tomoshi Okuda, who chairs the board of directors
of the Kitakyushu Organization to Support the Homeless
in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan. He said government
statistics do not reveal the true cost of homelessness.
Dec. 14, 2010.
Tuning Into Tunis. By Uncle Monty.

Sweet & Sour Sousse. By Uncle Monty.



(After being evacuated yesterday from Tunisia during the nationwide uprising against President Ben Ali and his long-time gangsters, I arrived back at homebase somewhat safely after being stranded at the capital of Tunis for a few days with occasional bulletz whizzing past my old Anglican head just two days before my birthday. The two stories of Tunis and Sousse were written inside Tunisia during the huge street protests and open killings by the vicious riot police as Ben Ali fled the country and abandoned it for his own safety while presumably taking with him millions of dollars in his big corrupt pockets ... All's well for me right now, thankfully! Praise The Good Lord!! Truly, Uncle Monty.

Web Stats: My new blog allaboutthebigissue started with just an handful of hits, but within the past months its grown to more than 500 hits. While 500 hits isn't much compared to other long standing blogs, I am still happily surprised that such a number has grown from nothing in such a short time. This year 2011, my aim is to double and even quadruple the number of hits to my blog allaboutthebigissue. What I am finding is the growing number of disaffected Big Issue vendors and some ex-Big Issue staffers contacting me with all kinds of comments and information that is inimical to The Big Issue under the shysters brothers of Peter and John Bird. I will continue unabatedly to present stories and facts about them and to highlight all that is wrong with them and their money making exploitation of the homeless all across the UK. Now 6 months after Peter Bird had the gall and nerve to unjustly suspend me as a Big Issue vendor under his arbitrary and capricious declaration of me "bringing the Big Issue into disrepute," I am still in the battle against him until he and his brother John Bird decide to treat me right. My battle came after the Colorado cunt and bogus bishop Colin James, III - the infamous Yankee troll and the 1996 Internet Kook of the Year - contacted the Bird Brothers to unload his malicious dirt on me! Peewee Peter Bird nor his redneck bother Anthony John Bird has never given me the chance to appeal their callous decision nor have they given me or other suspended vendors any due process. All that the Bird Brothers do is to throw away the lives of vendors at their whim amd will. They are so hated it is amazing how they can still rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year off the backs of their vendors. The Big Issue celebrates its 20 anniversary in Sept. 2011. It is my hope that such a celebration will be a rejection by all of those who detest everything the Bird Brothers stand for. I shall here at allaboutthebigissue present special critical and biting stories to coincide with the stinking 20th Anniversary of The Big Issue. Whatever I can do to bring "disrepute" on it and its greedy Peter and John Bird I most certainly will. You can help by continuing to contact me about whatever you wish about them and The Big Issue. I have just received new details about Big Issue staffers Steve Farrell and Tom Woolock and ex-staffer John Duffy, who held the fancy post of International Business Manager for The Big Issue and quit last year despite being very close for years to redneck John Bird himself. The more I learn about the comings and goings at The Big Issue, the more worrying and disturbing are many of the details I continue to learn ... Stay tuned, my blog friends! It can only get more revealing as time goes by against the Bird Brothers. Cheerz, Uncle Monty. January 18, 2011.



Curtis said...

Ah Uncle Monty, Its been a known fact for years the Big Issue has
always been a "legal" con game.
If you didn't know it, you were
part of it as a Big Issue seller
for years yourself. Some say
its a money racket for the owner Bird. He's jackel. Keep your blog
going. Big Issue is the issue, not
the homeless anymore. Take my word
for it, Big Issue will give you
back your pitch just to shut you
up. It's coming soon for you.
Happy days will be here again ...

Curtis, Newport, S. Wales.

Anonymous said...

sorry mont mate to be away
not for got you. looks like
youve been on the road in
you got back ok. tbi is
still pulling the trics i see.
you say so much i like what i
no mate youre never down covent
gardn anymore. look out for you
but never see
good look for 20011. your old
mate is me