Our team is busy with the cost-of-living crisis as vendors worry about managing their finances. We became a referral agency for the Household Support Fund, so all eligible vendors in our area received financial support through them. We also partnered with ACH who work to build a better future for refugees and migrants in the UK. This enabled vendors to attend a job fair where we offered vulnerable individuals who needed an immediate income the opportunity to become vendors. Along with ACH, we liaised with the Centrala Space gallery so that female vendors could attend a wellbeing workshop. The workshop – “Let your light shine” – allowed the vendors to socialise with other women in the community and ended with a gallery tour.
There have been plenty of new vendors in Bath and Bristol recently. We’ve been hearing a lot of concerns about the upcoming increase in fuel prices. One-on-one support is being offered to vendors to help them to arrange arrears repayments so that they can slowly pay back debt at a manageable pace. We’ve also been preparing for the start of The Big Issue Ebikes Pilot, under which two vendors will work two paid shifts a week for a month with the Ebikes team. This is the first pilot of its kind here and we’re eager to support the vendors involved throughout their journey and learn along with them.
An Oxford vendor who had major repair issues in their flat needs support to negotiate access for the landlord to begin repairs. We’re also making sure any damaged furniture is replaced. We are also working with a number of agencies to support a vendor and their family who have been issued notice to leave their home. They’ve lived in this property for years, but the owner is now selling. We’re supporting the vendor through this big change and helping them build connections in their community.
London is gearing up for winter. As well as sourcing warm clothing, we continue to build partnerships with several agencies – councils, hostels and other organisations – to support vendors, especially rough sleepers. As the cost of living soars, we’re working with food banks, baby banks and fuel charities to further support vendors. We continue to welcome vendors to the Hand Up Service, giving support, guidance, and information to help them identify and achieve their goals.
A long-term vendor who was looking to move into construction work was enrolled in the Site Manager Safety Training Scheme and First Aid training through the Hand Up Fund (the new name for the Vendor Support Fund), giving him the tools to become a site manager.
An ex-vendor who moved on to other work has returned to selling the magazine. She’s been financially struggling, skipping meals, and turned off her fridge to save on electricity. We got her an Asda voucher, a fuel bank voucher, and a pre-paid SIM. She was referred to a financial advisor to see if her salary can cover her expenses. Finally, we advised her to have an honest conversation with her employer as they’re aware she used to be homeless.
We’ve been preparing for the upcoming Vendor Health Day. We’re liaising with a celebrity chef and a vegan restaurant to set up a vendor cooking session. We’re also hoping to introduce a monthly Cinema Club for vendors through Cineworld as this would be good for mental health.
We recently helped an older vendor with mobility issues get a scooter. The vendor – aged 71 with back problems – was very emotional when we handed him the keys.
We’re proud of the partnerships we have with local support services who enable our vendors to access the help they need. We’ve spent the last few months making connections in other areas of the East Midlands to ensure wherever our vendors are they can access the same quality and diversity of support. We’re finding great services, such as The Sound Cafe in Leicester. Among other things, they run a homelessness football team, which focuses on mental wellbeing and breaking down barriers.
Some vendors have discussed looking for further employment but are worried about the job search. We’ve teamed up with New Path to Employment, who support individuals in recovery to look for work and training. As a result, one of our longest-selling vendors with a passion for DJing has signed up for a music technology course and is developing his CV to start applying for jobs.
We’re back to our normal busy status. We had several new rough sleepers start with us during September. A new vendor came in on his second day and we talked over coffee, which led to a referral with a local supported housing provider. After an assessment, he’s now in accommodation!
We’re currently focused on ensuring that the vendors wishing to go cashless are facilitated to do so. We’re also looking forward to starting a monthly Vendor Outreach Service drop-in at the Portsmouth office.
Vendors are seeing the benefits of an official photo ID. Through the Hand Up Fund, we obtained birth certificates and passports for two more vendors. As a result of having ID, a vendor in Inverness plans to open his first bank account and is moving forward in his financial and digital inclusion journey. An Edinburgh vendor was delighted to finally have an official ID for the first time as it gave him a sense of citizenship.
Finally, we secured a slot on an accredited nail technician course for another vendor, giving her an opportunity to access employment once she completes the course. This was also made possible through the Hand Up Fund.
Every copy counts this Winter
Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Winter. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Winter.