John Bird MBE is a British social entrepreneur best known as the founder of The Big Issue, a magazine that is edited by professional journalists and sold by street vendors affected by homelessness.
Born in Notting Hill, London to a poor London Irish family, John became homeless at the age of five, resided in an orphanage between the ages of seven and ten, slept rough on the streets of London and spent time in prison.
His determination and ambition to change his circumstances was only surpassed by his compassion and desire to help others change theirs, and The Big Issue was the engine and the outcome of this philosophy.
The Big Issue is now the most successful street magazine in the world and allows homeless people across the globe make money in an honest and dignified fashion.
John, an inspirational figure, has always worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone, from those within the business world to those less fortunate, struggling and suffering at the boundaries of society, takes leadership of themselves, accepting responsibility for their actions and choices and refusing to be held back by circumstances of birth or fate.
John has spoken at the United Nations, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace; he was awarded the UN Scroll of Honour and the 2005/6 Beacon Prize for Creative Giving in recognition of his contribution to social change and a socially conscious community.
In addition he was given an honorary Doctorate in Business by the University of Plymouth and was presented with an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 1995.
John remains an active voice in the realm of social change, often commenting on political policies and appearing at high profile fundraising and awareness events – as a motivational speaker he often lectures at corporate events and conferences on topics of leadership, personal development and business leadership.
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