The Big Issue: Rewarding UK’s Lived-Experience-In-Chief

A 19th century engraving shows King John on one side of the table and a selection of English Lords on the other as the King signed the Magna Carta
It's been a long road from the noble 'take' of the Magna Carta from King John in 1215 to the more modern giving of the UK House of Lords.

It’s only taken, what? — 900 odd years or so to make the change, but the United Kingdom has converted at least some corners of the National Office of Citizen Oppression into a means of honouring social achievement.

(The original oppressor — the monarch —  had that much of that role yanked away by the Magna Carta in 1215. The seat of the powers that the monarch lost became the House of Lords. In turn, it has had much of its own oppressive (okay, and beneficial) powers eroded away by the House of Commons.)

However, over time, The House of Lords has retained — even advanced — some of its powers of celebration. In particular, it has increasingly honoured those who have contributed in diverse fields of endeavour by welcoming them to the peerage. That allows them to sit in the House of Lords and so exert some influence on the business of government.

We are living at a time where there is a growing international realization that ‘lived experience’ is an important tool in understanding poverty, as well as working to eradicate it and all its pernicious evils such as homelessness.

And so we have a man elevated to the peerage who is no stranger in the UK, and who deserves to be known further afield. Lord John Bird might be considered the UK’s Lived-Experience-in-Chief. He is one of Britain’s most prominent social businessmen.

The Big Issue, a successful magazine Lord Bird co-founded, provides employment opportunities for the poor and is considered the most widely circulated street newspaper in the world.

What else does Lord Bird do? He advocates.

Here’s one story about his interests, activities and lived experience. Read more in StokeOnTrentLive: Big Issue founder John Bird praises ‘phenomenal’ Stoke-on-Trent homeless hostel