I regularly buy the Big Issue magazine.
As well as helping some of society's most vulnerable people, it's a great read - some fantastic articles and interviews.
There's a regular slot with a famous person giving advice to their 16 year old self - I enjoy that, it gives an insight into the person, and the things that shaped them.
The editor of the Big Issue, John Bird always writes a thought-provoking column, and there's features about people who have been helped, and continue to be helped by the Big Issue Foundation.
In addition to the magazine, I also build up a relationship with the various vendors (there's been a few standing in the same place over the last few years - I don't know what happened to the previous ones, but I like to think that they've moved on , and got their lives on track). For example, last week I only had pound coins, and the vendor didn't have any change (I'm usually one of the first people he sees), he was happy to just take the £2 for the time being, knowing that I'd give him the other 50p then next time I saw him - which I did the very next day.
It's not just about buying the magazine, it feels like being a part of something bigger.
Sadly, those in power don't see it the same way (surprise, surprise). The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, who seems determined to make himself look ever more foolish, has criticised the Big Issue for "encouraging benefit tourism". It's those nasty immigrants again.
It saddens me - instead of celebrating the good work that the Big Issue does, those in power seem only able to find fault, and try to use it in their ongoing propaganda war. Statements like those from IDS have the effect of making people see Big Issue vendors in a negative light, making people less likely to buy the magazine.
Please support Big Issue vendors where you can - they are trying to help themselves in a practical way - they are not "benefit grabbers" or whatever else the propaganda machine tries to label them as.