Lord John Bird, Founder and Editor-In-Chief, The Big Issue
Lord John Bird was a poor boy, orphan, thief, inmate, artist and poet before going on to found the ground-breaking social initiative that is The Big Issue. He was born shortly after the Second World War to a London-Irish family into slum-ridden Notting Hill. Homelessness, orphanages, crime and prison characterised much of his early life until his metamorphosis into a successful small businessman occurred in the 1980s.
Since setting up The Big Issue magazine and foundation to help the homeless help themselves some sixteen years ago,Lord John has become an authority on motivation and the ascendancy to achievement. Amongst the places he has spoken are the UN in New York, Nairobi and Istanbul, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. The UN Scroll of Honour, an MBE and the 2005/6 Beacon Prize for Creative Giving are just three of the many accolades and awards he has received. Since the inception of The Big Issue in 1991, Lord John has overseen its development into the UK's most successful social enterprise, stretching from Tokyo to Totnes and helping thousands of homeless people worldwide.
Since 2001, he has worked for Sure Start a government led initiative that has been empowering parents to be actively involved in the decision making processes in their local areas as well as fast tracking them to services they otherwise may not have accessed previously.
Lord John's latest venture is called Wedge Card, a loyalty card aimed at revitalising the local high street. The card gives shoppers discounts at hundreds of independent businesses as well as raising money for local charities. For further information, log on to www.wedgecard.co.uk.
His autobiography "Some Luck", published by Penguin is a fantastic explanation of much of Lord John's lack of fortune, misfortune and his ascendancy out of the vulgar life of crime to social engineering. In March 2007 he took part to the Quick Reads campaign and wrote the best selling book 'How to change your life in 7 steps'. Now aged 61, he has recently remarried for the third time and he has 5 children.