Christopher Eccleston has urged the public to support their local Big Issue vendor as the weather becomes colder ahead of Christmas, describing the publication as a “lifeline”.
The former Doctor Who actor’s appeal comes as people experiencing homelessness are at risk from the pandemic, falling temperatures and weather events such as Storms Arwen and Barra.
Eccleston, who is an ambassador for the Big Issue, met with Easton, a vendor in Seven Sisters, north London, who sells the paper to pay his National Insurance contributions and has watched Doctor Who since the days of Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor, in the 1970s.
The actor, 57, said: “It’s not just the financial exchange with your vendor, it’s also about the personal interaction, the acknowledgement of their existence and their need.
“People are dying. People are sick and dying and living on the streets. It’s quite obvious, to walk down any street and you see people living on the street. The Big Issue is a lifeline.
“I think we’re going to be seeing the results, the damage economically from this pandemic, for the next 10 to 15 years. At the sharp end are the people who sell the Big Issue.”
Eccleston, who lives in north London, added: “I’ve been noticing the cold weather and I’ve been noticing increased numbers on the streets since the pandemic.
“This is the second Christmas of our pandemic, and as an ambassador, it’s very important that we spread the message.”
According to the Big Issue, around 225,000 people in rent arrears say they are likely to lose their homes this winter.
With its Stop Mass Homelessness campaign, the publication is calling on the Government to address this by making £360 million available to pay off rent arrears.
Eccleston, who purchases the Big Issue as he travels around the UK for work, said those interactions had given him an insight into the challenges faced by people living homeless during the pandemic.
He said: “Capitalism’s got hold in the last 40 years. That was the beginning, when I first moved to London, what we called cardboard city on the South Bank.
“I used to walk through it on my way to rehearsals at the National Theatre. It’s not a problem that’s gone away.
“We need you please, to buy the Big Issue, not once, maybe a couple of times. This is the Christmas period, the period of giving.”
A copy of The Big Issue can be purchased from your local vendor or you can purchase a subscription (vendors receive 50% of the net profits).
You can also make a donation to The Big Issue Foundation at www.bigissue.com/bigwish.