John Bird MBE is the founder of The Big Issue.
He is one of the most interesting and inspiring characters you are likely to come across.
He has a history more colourful than the Northern Lights, and stories that will have you crying, laughing, but ultimately in complete awe of this larger than life individual, that not only embraces life, but teaches others how to do so.
In September 1991, John Bird along with Gordon Roddick of The Body Shop launched The Big Issue.
The inspiration for the magazine came from Street News, a newspaper sold by homeless people in New York, which Roddick saw on a visit to the States.
With the assistance of The Body Shop International, Roddick and Bird launched The Big Issue initially as a monthly publication in London.
In June 1993, The Big Issue went weekly, and regional sister titles were later established in Manchester (The Big Issue in the North), Glasgow (The Big Issue Scotland) and Cardiff (The Big Issue Cymru), Bristol (The Big Issue South West) and Birmingham (The Big Issue Midlands). Subsequently editions were also launched in Sydney – Australia, Cape Town – South Africa and Los Angeles – USA. The Big Issue is a founder member of the International Network of Street Papers (INSP), which links up similar magazines from all over the world.
The Big Issue campaigns on behalf of homeless and socially excluded people. It is not part of any other media group, and guards its independence fiercely. It has no party political allegiance.
The magazine is a combination of hard-hitting current affairs journalism and critical, incisive writing about the world of arts and entertainment. Its high standard of reporting has won the magazine a brace of high-profile media awards.
John Bird is currently president of The Big Issue Foundation Board of Trustees.
“I have a lifetime of experience to draw upon. I was born into the underclass, made homeless at the age of seven, in prison by the time I was a teenager, slept rough on the streets of London, and from there went on to buying and selling products and services, and building businesses”.
At a time when Corporate Social Responsibility is preoccupying business leaders and consumers alike, audiences welcome John’s fresh and non confrontational approach to challenging existing thinking. His motivational presentations focus on goal setting, soul searching and ultimately the individuals motivational drive.
“Achieving the “impossible”: Genius it ain’t: “I was born with few advantages, but I managed to turn my life around with a combination of will-power, determination, a positive attitude and, of course, some luck. Many people believe that it takes some sort of inherent genius to succeed – I know from my own experience that that is not true. We can all achieve more if we learn to have the confidence to fail.”
In June 1995, John Bird was awarded the MBE for ‘services to homeless people’ and in 2006 he received the prestigious Beacon Fellowship Prize for his energy and originality in raising awareness of homelessness and his support of homeless communities worldwide.
John Bird was nominated for life peerage by the House of Lords Appointments Commission in October 2015 to become a non-party-political peer.
Speaking topics include:
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Social Enterprise
- Social Change