MOST of us view buying the Big Issue as a kind of donation to charity, as it is traditionally sold by homeless people in big cities as an alternative to begging.
But Waitrose customers in small Sussex towns like Hailsham and Uckfield are recently being targeted by Big Issue sellers.
I really do not enjoy being constantly approached, so curiosity impelled me to visit the Big Issue websites.
I was concerned at the information I found.
“Vendors do not have to be homeless. Some of the people we work with are in private or council tenancies.
“They may not be able to access mainstream employment because of their mental health, drug addiction, lack of skills or legal right to be employed in this country.
“As all vendors are self-employed we are not required to check their residency status and do not do so.
“Vendors can claim a range of benefits. We ask all vendors to inform the benefits office as soon as they sign up to sell The Big Issue.”
Big Issue sellers must obtain a licence from the local council for a pitch in a public place.
I am very concerned that, before awarding these licences, perhaps councils do not check a seller’s residency status, or check whether he or she is informing the benefits office of their earnings.
The great tolerance which the public and councils have for Big Issue sellers may be opening up potential loopholes for abuse, and I would like to see some reassurance that local councils have firm measures in place to prevent this before they issue a licence for a pitch.
Ms L GRACE
Sackville Road, Hailsham