18 Aug 2014

Chris Martin from Coldplay reckons they’re one the most important charities in the world. Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden once risked his life when he was smuggled over the Bosnian border in 1994 to play a benefit gig for them in their honour.

In fact, it seems that people will do anything for War Child, which protects young and vulnerable victims of global conflict. Now, 20 years since it began, War Child is still constantly name checked, and with their seemingly unbreakable connection to British music they’re as high profile as ever. ”Two weeks ago Kasabian put on a gig for War Child” says the charity’s director of programmes, Dan Collison. ”We’ve still got strong associations with the music industry.”

As well as their rock and roll supporters, War Child has also benefitted from donations and funding from various sources, including Big Issue Invest, which offered them a loan for £120,000 enabling them to grow their team and operations.

There’s no shortage of wellwishers for this charity whose empowering approach and grassroots support are helping children across the globe. ”We’ve got an interesting mix of donors. We have grants from what you might call ‘traditional’ funding agencies: the government, Comic Relief, the European Union,” says Collison. “Then we have quite a lot of private funding from individuals and the private sector. We’ve got partnerships with the Body Shop and River Island… it’s quite diverse. Although we’re a small agency, we have a good balance.” You can read the full article here

4 Aug 2014


The Big Issue Group did the London to Paris bike ride last weekend. They covered off 275 miles in 3 days to raise money for The Big Issue Foundation, the charity arm of the Big Issue Group. The money will be used to provide support to our vendors – this includes eye tests, dentistry, services around mental health, employment, drug and alcohol addiction. Over £50,000 was generated by the team, including Daniel Wilson from Big Issue Invest, pretty impressive.

15 Jul 2014

Back in 1903 – an incredible 45 years before the NHS – a woman called Margaret Horn founded the Westminster Children’s Society. This holistic charity was designed to promote maternal and child health in an area gripped with poverty.

Poverty is still a major problem, with four in 10 children in London affected by it. And one obstacle to getting out of poverty is a lack of good quality, affordable childcare. So it’s fitting that the Westminster Children’s Society is now called LEYF – the London Early Years Foundation – and it’s providing childcare for a diverse range of families right across the capital. How? Well, LEYF – a social enterprise since 2008 – has a brilliant strategy.

It uses revenue from its nurseries in affluent parts of London to support nurseries in more deprived areas. It’s as simple as ABC, yet LEYF are unique in bringing good childcare to the areas that need it most. And it turns out that this mix of local authority funded and paid-for places also has a positive impact on child development. With the help of a loan from Big Issue Invest and Bridges Ventures – as well as a grant from the Social Business Trust – its amount of nurseries, which currently stand at 24 across six boroughs, are about to increase to 34.

“We want to reach 5000 children by 2017.The Big Issue Invest loan is to fund that phase of expansion,” says Louise Cooper. “We’re feeling pretty good about the new start-ups – we’ve got two new nurseries opening in Autumn in Brixton and Greenwich, and there are two more in Stockwell and Hammersmith for early next year. The capital is for refurbishment – we find sets of rooms and convert them into nurseries, kitting them out with changing rooms, kitchens, all the right toys for the children…”

You can read the full article which featured in The Big Issue magazine here.

17 Jun 2014

All too often that cosy image of a jolly, Werther’s Original-style pensioner, bouncing a great grandchild on their knee, couldn’t be further from the truth. Older people can be isolated and depressed, awaiting the end of life without access to quality care. But in a tiny village called Belford in Northumbria the local community has gathered to care for its elderly with gusto – offering arts and crafts, exercise classes, dancing and Russell Crowe films, as well as care at home so they can live independent lives.

Rising from the ashes of a former care home, Bell View is the place to be for the elderly community, providing access to emotional support and transport for older people who live in this sprawling, rural area.

“We wanted to deliver an innovative way of providing care for older people,” says Jane Field service development manager at Bell View. “Not like the old kind of home care, chucking breakfast in front of you and going out the door. We wanted to offer an integrated package of support to people in the community.”

Our partnership with Bell View featured in The Big Issue magazine (June 9 – 15 2014 No.1106).

Big Issue Invest & Bell View

16 Jun 2014

At Cielo, run by Nick and Linda Castle, good coffee and life-affirming treats form just one part of this vibrant community social enterprise in Garforth, Leeds.

With the help of funding from Big Issue Invest, they’re also tackling unemployment and social isolation – one espresso shot at a time. “We really liked our community and wanted to help people,” says Nick, who dreamed up Cielo with his wife Linda six years ago. “We were doing jobs and asked ourselves, what did we really want to do with our time? We both loved going to coffee houses and didn’t have one locally, so we decided it would fit the model to make it a social enterprise.”

“Ceilo shares the core values of The Big Issue. It’s not just about employment opportunities – it’s about people helping themselves to have happy and fulfilling lives.”

This press article featured in The Big Issue magazine (May 26 – June 1, 2014 No.1104)

Big Issue Invest & Cielo

24 May 2014

A chance remark gave Darren Taylor the idea for a pioneering social enterprise turning old computers into new opportunities.

South London-based social enterprise Eco Communities was founded in 2007 by Darren, this multi-tasking project has blossomed from a small computer-recycling shop in Sydenham High Street to a community powerhouse, giving local people the skills to find work.

And with £100,000 of ongoing funding from Big Issue Invest – matched by social support company UnLtd – it’s all in a day’s work to rescue old computers from landfill, close the digital divide, revitalise local libraries, and train people for jobs.

“I asked if I could run Sydenham, and I was allowed to put in an expression of interest.” Taylor recalls. “And we won the bid.” Now Eco Communities run four libraries: Sydenham, Deptford, Croftham Park and Grove Park, employing around 23 staff, with over 100 volunteers.

This press article featured in The Big Issue magazine (May 12-18, 2014 No.1102)

Big Issue Invest & Eco Communities

23 May 2014

Adapt North East started as a community group but now users across the region say they couldn’t live without it.

This grassroots social enterprise gives a wide range of people from rural communities the means to get out and about. And the people who use it have now started to see it as a necessity. ‘Adapt is our only transport to Hexham for shopping and going to the doctors,’ says one regular user. ‘Without it, it would cost about £20 by taxi. It’s a wonderful service. The drivers are always pleasant and friendly.’

Now, under the co-directorship of Liz Prudhoe, recently crowned the North East’s Social Enterprise Woman of the Year, it’s no longer just the people of Tynedale who benefit from its dial-a-ride pick up services and regular contracts. School children, the elderly, young adults and their carers all over the North East are now offered a much-needed lift. In fact, to reflect how much they’ve grown under Prudhoe’s leadership, in the last few years they’ve changed their name from Adapt Tynedale to Adapt North East.

With a repeat loan from Big Issue Invest, things are set to get even bigger. With Big Issue Invest’s help, they’ve secured premises in Hexham to develop a local resource centre. What’s more, they’ve also created 22 jobs.

Our partnership with Adapt featured in The Big Issue magazine (April 28-May 4 2014 No.1100).

Big Issue Invest & ADAPT

23 May 2014

Jelly babies, Dolly Mixtures, sherbet fountains…they’re the stuff of childhood dreams.

The old Barratt’s chocolate factory in Wood Green, North London, once churned out all of these and more. But since 1996, this imposing building in the diverse borough of Haringey has served as a dream factory for young people from different social backgrounds who want to do something creative.

The Chocolate Factory is the beating heart of Collage Arts, a charity founded 30 years ago by graphic artist and community arts activist, Manoj Ambasna.

As well as providing office space for 200 creative businesses, The Chocolate Factory is an inspiring arts development and training hub. Their month-long training schemes offer opportunities to black and ethnic minority communities, unemployed and disadvantaged young people across London, with courses leading to 100 creative apprenticeships a year.

And thanks to a £100,000 injection of funds from Big Issue Invest, the wheels keep on turning. As it shares the Big Issue’s ethos of ‘helping people to help themselves’, Collage Arts was granted the loan to help expand their training provision, and support their core activity – to be an incubator for creative businesses. Glenn Arradon, loan manager at Big Issue Invest, said: ‘It was clear to us from the start that the opportunities they offer are life changing, which is why we are keen to support them.

This press article featured in The Big Issue magazine (April 14-20, 2014 No.1098)

Big Issue Invest & College Arts

23 May 2014

Early stage social businesses across England are being challenged to apply for vital investment capital and business mentoring support that will potentially propel their ventures to the next level.

Big Issue Invest’s Corporate Social Venturing Challenge is back: £500,000 investment available for innovative early stage social businesses.

The initiative is an innovative partnership between Big Issue Invest and Barclays, with investment and support from five partners: Experian, First Ark, Fusion21, Places for People, and The University of Northampton. The Challenge is also supported by the Cabinet Office, as part of the £10m Social Incubator Fund.

We’ve opened a second round of our Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) programme. The programme uses corporate partners to invest in, support and nurture a new generation of high potential social businesses to grow and deliver sustainable social and financial returns.

Now open, the CSV Challenge is seeking up to 20 teams for an intensive mentoring programme. At the end, 10 finalists will be chosen to receive an investment of up to £50,000 each, as well as on-going support.

BII CSV Launch Release