SALES of the Big Issue magazine sold by the homeless have dropped since Bournemouth council launched a campaign against beggars, said a member of staff.

Simon Chilcott, area service broker for Dorset and Hampshire at the Big Issue, said that while they fully endorsed Bournemouth council’s Your Kindness Could Kill: Begging Awareness campaign, people should not confuse ‘beggars’ with magazine vendors.

He added that sales had been hit following the campaign. He stressed the Big Issue aims to offer a meaningful alternative to begging, with the vendors buying the magazine for £1.25 and sell it to the public for £2.50.

He added: “This opportunity to start and earn their own money on their own terms is a vital first step for a person as they begin their journey away from homelessness.

“We make the public aware as much as possible to help us help them, by ensuring they buy a copy from vendors bearing valid Big Issue badges and jackets.”

Mr Chilcott said all vendors had to sign a code of conduct and there was a disciplinary procedure in place should this be seriously or continuously broken.

He added: “Please buy a copy of the Big Issue from official sellers with badges or those wearing Big Issue tabards and take what you pay for.”

Lorraine Mealings, head of strategic housing at Bournemouth Council, said: “We do not view Big Issue vendor activity as begging.

“As part of our campaign, we want to raise awareness amongst the public that by giving money direct to people who are begging, they can perpetuate the problem.

“We want to encourage people to divert their donations to established services which are focused on getting people into accommodation, support and employment.

“The begging awareness campaign will divert money into the town’s rough sleeper team, which will enhance services to help people come inside quickly.”