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Non Fiction

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The Big Issue

Big Issue


The Big Issue is a street newspaper founded by John Bird and Gordon Roddick in September 1991 and published in four continents. John Anthony Bird, Baron Bird, (born 30 January 1946) is a British social entrepreneur and life peer. Bird was born in a Notting Hill slum to a poor London Irish family. He became homeless at the age of five, resided in an orphanage between the ages of seven and ten, and was often excluded from school. He became a butcher's boy after leaving the orphanage, and supplemented his income by stealing. Between work, he spent several spells in prison during his teens and twenties where he learnt to read, write and the basics of printing. Bird attended Chelsea School of Art, but was homeless again by 1967, sleeping rough in Edinburgh while being sought by the police for petty offences. In the early 1970s, he started to build upon his prison education and set up a small-scale printing and publishing business in London. For two weeks in 1970, he worked as a dishwasher in the Houses of Parliament canteen, an institution he would later return to as a life peer. He is best known as the co-founder of The Big Issue, a magazine that is edited by professional journalists and sold by street vendors who are homeless or vulnerably-housed. Bird sits as an independent Crossbencher member of the House of Lords.

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