After the class, my colleagues and I update vendors’ badges and offer new vendors support to find a pitch where they can sell.
A little while later a vendor comes in and asks us to help him with a doctor’s appointment because he can’t hear well and speaks limited English. We rang the GP, arranged an appointment with an interpreter and ensured the vendor knew when the appointment was so he can attend.
I begin the day by organising a sewing lesson for a group of vendors who expressed an interest in learning this skill. Learning to sew can help vendors save money and reduce isolation. I contact Springfield Project, who will run the session, to discuss how we can engage vendors in this activity.
Later on, I worked on a bilingual presentation in Romanian and English to raise vendors’ awareness of modern slavery. This is a project we are delivering in collaboration with Transforming Communities.
Today I met with the Senior Education & Training Manager from Umbrella – a University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust service that provides free sexual health services across Birmingham and Solihull. We will work together to raise awareness of The Big Issue among Umbrella’s partners. Our first step will be to present at the next partners event in order to put the support we offer on the radar of as many organisations as possible.
Next, I phoned a long-term vendor who was offered a job at Birmingham New Street station following a stint on the Network Rail corporate pitch there. We agreed a time when he is free to be interviewed for The Big Issue and for the Railway Station Newsletter. I also check to find out how he’s coping with having to give up selling the magazine while he waits for his first payment from the new job. We discuss the location of the local soup kitchen and how to access a food voucher should the need arise.
Today I catch up with vital admin, ensuring all our partner agency contacts are in the system.
Next, I put information about eye health up on our notice board, ahead of National Eye Week. I pin up some eye test vouchers, recipes that support good eye health, and a small test that you can do by yourself to check if you have any reasons to be concerned about your eyes.
Later, a vendor comes in for a referral to the Ready for Work Programme. Selling the magazine has been her first job and she’s keen to progress up the ladder. I take her through the process and make the referral. This could be a great opportunity for her to gain financial independence.
The Big Issue values personal development, growth and change above all else. Whether it’s a big change or a small one, we provide ongoing coaching and support to vendors so that they can take positive steps forward.