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Big Issue Foundation

A week in the life of a service broker: Matthew Morley, London

I visited the House of Lords to attend a meeting with Vision Care for Homeless People, a charity that provides eye tests and glasses for people who can’t afford the costs.

A week in the life of a service broker: Matthew Morley, London

Monday

We are a relatively small vendor-facing team and I always enjoy working on the counter when we are short-staffed selling magazines to vendors and catching up with their news. While chatting with a vendor, a young man who had recently started with us came into the office and was quite upset. He explained he had been removed from a property by police and was homeless without any of his belongings. Also he was about to start some serious medical treatment. He had been subletting from someone who had no right to sublet. He had been turned away by the local authority because he could not prove his local connection with any paperwork. After an intervention with the local authority they agreed to place him in emergency accommodation while they assessed his situation.

Tuesday

I visited the House of Lords to attend a meeting with Vision Care for Homeless People, a charity that provides eye tests and glasses for people who can’t afford the costs. This could be a great service to engage our vendors with and complements a number of other partnerships we have developed.

Wednesday

For the purposes of accurate reporting I actually took today to catch up with an old friend who was on a flying visit to London. While having a coffee in Cavendish Square with my friend, a Big Issue vendor who I know quite well passed by. After exchanging a few pleasantries he moved on and this prompted a conversation with my friend about The Big Issue’s ethos of self-help, the fact that vendors buy their own magazines and the need for budgeting and routine. Five minutes later a notorious ‘rogue’ [fake] vendor turned up with a battered copy of The Big Issue that looked about a year old. He gave me a cursory nod and looked at my friend expectantly – the cheek!

Thursday

I met with our part-time service broker Lauren this morning who, along with her colleague Cynthia, deals with the induction of new vendors. Where possible we aim to make early interventions with vendors by referring them to local outreach teams, day centres of healthcare services etc. She was worried about a young man and we talked through some options. A short time later, the NHS mobile TB testing van arrived. The van has facilities to immediately test for a range of health problems faced by homeless people and staff gave us a tour of their brand new van. We look forward to engaging some vendors with this fantastic service.

Friday

Today I visited the franchisee distributors at Waterloo and Liverpool Street. The franchisees are former vendors who sell magazines to vendors at different locations around London. I asked for feedback about the support we are providing on an outreach basis. We have a rota of open surgeries based at the distribution points for vendors to engage with our service broker, Sikira. Things are going well and we look forward to increasing the level of support we provide.

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