The Archbishop of Canterbury has stepped in as a Big Issue vendor for the day to highlight homelessness.

Justin Welby joined a local Big Issue vendor, Lee Welham, on a shift outside the Round Church in Cambridge.

The pair struck up a friendship while the archbishop has been in Cambridge on study leave.

A representative at The Big Issue – which enlists people who are homeless and vulnerable to sell the magazine to help them earn a legitimate income – said the sell-off experience was a “great opportunity to show the archbishop, on a small scale, what everyday life selling the magazine on the streets is like”.

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

He said: “The Big Issue changes lives and changes society. Each time you stop for a chat with a vendor and buy a copy of the magazine, you are part of that change.

“I’m hugely grateful to have had the chance to go on a shift with Lee and get a glimpse of what it’s like selling The Big Issue.

“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.”

Mr Welham, 37, said: “It was brilliant to show the archbishop that everyone does treat the vendors well around here. I’ve built a lovely community. Each and every one of these people here comes and says hello to me every morning.”

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