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Archbishop goes undercover for the Big Issue

The Archbishop of Canterbury has donned a Big Issue tabard and signature red hat to sell the homeless-benefit magazine on the streets of Cambridge.

The change of job came about after Welby made fiends with regular Big Issue-seller Lee Welham while in Cambridge on study leave.

Welham persuaded Welby to try the job out for a shift near the Round Church in Cambridge.

A Big Issue spokesperson said the experience was a “great opportunity to show the archbishop, on a small scale, what everyday life selling the magazine on the streets is like”.

“I was really nervous before I started because I thought, I’m going to be very conspicuous and, surprisingly enough in my job, I hate being conspicuous,” the archbishop told Welham. But he shouldn’t have worried.

“It really struck me that people weren’t looking me in the eye, people were head down, I could see people crossing the road.”

Welham said that was par for the course. “Can you imagine how it would feel for somebody who has no confidence at all just having someone ignore you 70 times a day? You can see why it would feel so demoralising.”

The archbishop, who sold five copies of the magazine over 40 minutes, said he was “hugely grateful” for the opportunity, adding that homelessness is a “profoundly” important issue for the church.

“When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus – who famously said he had no place to lay his head – it’s clear that homelessness is an issue that matters profoundly to God, and that tackling poverty together is the essential work of a society where every person is truly valued,” he told the Independent newspaper.