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Specialist support and coaching will be given to prepare people for work.

The Big Issue said that while unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years, there are now more job vacancies than people seeking employment, showing the need for skills.

The so-called Big Issue Recruit scheme aims to help people from a more diverse range of backgrounds find work.

Job coaches will work with people experiencing poverty, including prison leavers and those needing new skills, as well as Big Issue magazine vendors keen to move into employment.

James Bradbury, a former Big Issue vendor in Leicester and Big Issue Recruit’s first candidate, said: “I was homeless, on the streets for two years before going to sell the Big Issue. I needed support with everything, Big Issue Group helped build my confidence.

“I’ve just started a training course to go into construction work. I’ve got good customer service skills and feel much more confident about getting into employment now.”

Paul Cheal, group chief executive of the Big Issue Group, said: “For over 30 years, Big Issue Group has worked to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity in a number of ways, from selling the magazine as a Big Issue vendor to investing in social enterprises like our own.

“In line with our new, five-year strategy of changing lives through enterprise, we are committed to supporting even more people living in poverty into earning or working with employers across the UK.

“Our mission is to create innovative solutions through enterprise, to unlock social and economic opportunity.

“By 2027, we aim for up to 11 million people every year to engage with Big Issue Group products and be positively impacted by Big Issue Group services. Big Issue Recruit is a further step forward in that direction.”

Paul Armstrong, Chairman of the Permira Foundation, a founding partner organisation of BIR, said: “Big Issue Recruit is a ground-breaking initiative driven by Big Issue Group’s proven track-record, vast knowledge and expertise in engaging with those often excluded and combining this with businesses in a partnership to help people into employment.”

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