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Cambridge's Big Issue co-founder launches online shop

John Bird, Big Issue co-founder launches online shop
John Bird, Big Issue co-founder launches online shop

Big Issue co-founder Lord John Bird celebrated the 25th anniversary of his magazine by launching a new online shop.

Lord Bird, 70, from Cambridge, who founded the Big Issue with Gordon Roddick in 1991, also warned that the city remains a magnet for homeless people.

But he congratulated the Cambridge Independent for its Wintercomfort campaign, which aims to raise £10,000 to help homeless people in the city during the winter months.

The Big Issue online shop will sell products with a ‘social echo’, he said. It will focus on brands that are produced by social enterprises and those that use trade to help people improve their lives.

“There’s a bit of a down at the moment on consumerism,” said Lord Bird. “But our consumerism is social consumerism. It’s useful, and it builds lives and communities and makes you a part of the whole process of improving people’s conditions that need improving.

“It’s a very special shop because what we sell helps. It helps people because it’s something that they want to buy. It helps us because it gives people an income for their work. And it helps the people who make the stuff that we sell.

“It’s a virtuous circle. Winners all around. And it’s all social trading. But we have been developing the idea which I call, in my grandiose way, a ‘social Amazon’. If you want to buy something, whatever you buy, buy it through us and the profits that come from the act of being a merchant, that money should stay in the community.”

He warned the homeless situation in the city could get worse.

He added: “Cambridge is a homeless magnet city, there are quite a number of them in the country. They get a disproportionate number of homeless problems, Brighton is another.

“Wintercomfort needs to given the means, which they have never had, to get homelessness out of people’s lives. Wintercomfort does a great job. It is always chasing its tails because nobody gives them enough money and I am really glad what the Cambridge Independent is doing.”

The new online shop can be found at the bigissueshop.com.

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