Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Big Issue Group calls on businesses to back a specialist recruitment service supporting people who face barriers to sustainable employment as gap in labour market persists

Research out today shows that there is an urgent need for an upskilled workforce. Big Issue Recruit (BIR), which aims to bring people from a more diverse range of backgrounds into the job market, is a new solution to this crisis.

Today, as figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown that the unemployment in the UK has risen to 3.7%* and there are 1.24m* people out of work and actively seeking employment and 1.19m** job vacancies remain to be filled, Big Issue Group (BIG) has renewed its call to businesses to back and candidates to apply to a UK wide recruitment service called ‘Big Issue Recruit’.

Research out today shows that there is an urgent need for an upskilled workforce. Big Issue Recruit (BIR), which aims to bring people from a more diverse range of backgrounds into the job market, is a new solution to this crisis.

BIR is a specialist recruitment service, dedicated to supporting people who face barriers to joining the workforce into sustainable employment. It is a person-centred service and free to candidates, supporting individuals and employers pre, during and post-employment.

Job Coaches work with candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds, who are experiencing poverty. The candidates will range from prison leavers, caregivers, those with skills gaps, to people experiencing social, health, financial or digital barriers to work and, of course, Big Issue magazine vendors keen to move into employment.

On signing up, candidates are partnered with a personal Job Coach, to understand and determine their needs and goals. Building confidence, skills and resilience and coaching individuals through the selection process, to secure their desired roles.

Finally, Job Coaches will work with candidates to establish a great relationship with their new employer and support them in their new role and career on an ongoing basis.

BIG is seeking partner employers to support this new, innovative service by using BIR to fill their vacancies and bring new candidates into the labour market. 

Mark Richards, a Big Issue Recruit candidate from Cardiff, said: “If it wasn’t for Big Issue Recruit I would either be in prison or six feet under the ground. They are helping me to learn new skills, gain work experience and get ready for job interviews. I’m hoping that with their help I will be able to get into full time employment in either hospitality or as a Warehouse Assistant and I am excited about making this happen with their support.”

Ola Kehinde, one of the first Big Issue Recruit candidates, from London, said : “It’s a good service for me. Shak, the Job Coach helping me has supported me really well. He calls me and makes sure I’m prepared for my appointments and helps me with preparation such as my CV. I want to secure a job and work my way up the ladder internally – Big Issue Recruit has given me confidence to do that.”

Shak Dean, Big Issue Recruit Job Coach, said: “So many people who have never worked or been out of work for some time really struggle to get into sustainable paid employment. Many people are held back due to a lack of digital skills, health, low confidence or previous setbacks in their life or career. For me, the importance of our work is twofold, firstly by giving the opportunity for marginalised individuals to gain and maintain work in a supported environment and secondly our employment partners are able to invest in an individual who is motivated and truly appreciative for the opportunity.”

Paul Cheal, Group CEO of The Big Issue Group, said: “The figures out today demonstrate a clear need for an upskilling to fill the employment gap that exists in the UK today.

“Big Issue Recruit exists to provide those facing barriers to work with the training and support they need to enter the workplace. We are here to unlock social and economic opportunity through enterprise and would love to hear from any businesses who want to be part of our innovative service at a time of real need.”

Big Issue Recruit aims to offer a personalised digital-first nationwide service with physical hubs across the UK, leveraging Big Issue Group’s expertise of working on a national basis for over 30 years.

If you would like to sign-up to use the service as a candidate or to learn more about how your business can support people with barriers to employment into work, visit, email or call 0207 526 3200 and ask for the Big Issue Recruit team.

* Employment in the UK - Office for National Statistics ( for the September- November 2022 period.
** see Table A02 SA
*** see Table VACS01