We believe financial stability generated through magazine sales is the cornerstone for Big Issue vendors to first overcome poverty and social exclusion and thereafter pursue employment, training and other opportunities when they feel ready to move on from The Big Issue.
The Big Issue exists to offer vulnerable people the opportunity to work their way out poverty. Big Issue sellers buy every copy of the magazine upfront for 50% of the cover price. The Big Issue Foundation, our charitable arm, works exclusively with Big Issue vendors, who have already demonstrated their commitment to making positive changes in their lives.
Our Frontline work with vendors both in the office and on outreach to foster a professional relationship and encourage them to meet the sales objectives in line with their own aspirations and expectations established for their pitch. Our team provide regular check-ins with assigned vendors to discuss sales, welfare and to gauge if a referral to either Service Broker colleagues or external agencies may be required.
The Vendor Journey
Induction – The induction is the first point of contact with a new Big Issue vendor. It aims to capture basic information about the vendor, explain how we work and convey some simple sales advice to get a vendor started. It is also used to understand the initial needs and goals of each vendor. The induction concludes with the signing of the Vendor Agreement.
Initial Assessment & Vendor Action Plan – The Service Brokerage Assessment identifies the support needs of a vendor and promotes the range of services we can help them to access. Some support needs can be addressed immediately such as access to emergency accommodation whilst longer term goals – including obtaining ID and opening a bank account – are collated into an Action Plan and manageably worked through on a step by step basis.
Review & New Action Plan – All our vendors work towards clear goals that we call outcomes. Outcomes achieved by vendors are formalised and tracked through their individual Action Plans and/or Outcome Star Assessments. Action Plans and Assessments are regularly reviewed – typically every 3 months – to discuss any barriers to progression and set new goals accordingly.
- Review Action Plan – Action Plans provide a structure for vendors to become financially independent selling The Big Issue magazine in the short term whilst in the long-term encouraging vendors to think about realistic career and life goals when they feel ready to move on.
- Outcome Star Assessment – An Outcome Star Assessment reviews a vendor’s progress against outcome areas
including Sales Skills, Financial Capability, Housing, Health and Employment & Training. It recognises that a vendor’s
journey is not necessarily linear and is personal to them. The star expands as the vendor makes progress.
Service Brokerage is the core work of The Big Issue Foundation. Foundation frontline workers – Service Brokers – are trained to accurately identify the health, housing, employment and other support needs of Big Issue vendors and provide expert information, advice and guidance best able to address these needs.
Service Brokerage is an enabler for creating personal change. Our Service Brokers access local services, maintain support networks and prevent Big Issue vendors falling through the gaps in society. We support vendors to achieve a position of financial stability through their magazine sales whilst working with them to address housing, poor health, addiction and other symptoms of poverty and social exclusion that have previously held them back.
Our approach is ‘vendor centric’. We engage vendors in a variety of settings – from purchasing magazines at the office, to catching up on their pitches during outreach, to discussing support needs during pre-arranged appointments – and work under their direction; providing jargon free information to navigate and connect with health, housing and other specialist support services.
Financial Inclusion – Goals to help vendors increase income
- Sales Skills – Complete induction and obtain official badge and tabard.
- Sales Progression – Assigned a pitch and build up a customer base.
- Sales Maximisation – Increase numbers of magazines purchased and sold.
- Card Reader – Supporting vendors to set up their readers and accept contactless payments.
Social Inclusion – Goals to increase equality and create opportunity
- Housing – Provide housing advice, rehouse into secure accommodation, tenancy support.
- Financial Capability – Open a bank account, budgeting, access a specialist financial service, e.g. debt advice.
- Health & Wellbeing – Register with a GP, access specialist health services, e.g. mental health, addiction treatment.
- ID – Obtain a passport or other form of ID to engage with services, apply for Settled Status.
- Education & Training – Attend opportunities workshops, enrol on education and training courses.
- Employment Opportunities – Employability workshops, job search, CV writing, interview skills
Donate to support vendors today
Other ways we support vendors
Alongside our core Service Brokerage work, we encourage vendors to enhance their financial capability and realise their ambitions through the:
- Vendor Tabard Scheme – The distinctive red tabard helps to identify vendors as official sellers of The Big Issue magazine. It also functions as a uniform which is instantly recognisable to members of the public and for vendors a physical embodiment that they are earning a legitimate livelihood on the streets.
- Vendor Savings Scheme – Our Vendor Savings Scheme aims to foster a saving culture amongst Big Issue vendors. It is not designed to replace bank/credit union accounts but instead encourages vendors to budget and change their mindset to move away from hand to mouth living.
- Theme Projects – Each year we run a number of theme projects focusing on common needs identified by vendors. Sales & Money was a recent theme with a particular focus on supporting vendors to make informed financial decisions and discussing new ways to increase their magazine sales.
- Vendor Support Fund – The fund enables Big Issue vendors to achieve employment, training and other personal aspirations which require financial support. Vendors are helped to identify goals and aspirations and assisted to complete an application form. They then save and contribute a discretionary amount – typically 20-50% – towards their chosen cost with the VSF Fund covering the remainder.
Gabi Sima, Service Broker Team Leader
“I ended up with only a few minutes to finish preparing the imminent English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) lesson, as vendors are already coming into the office. My students are doing their best to learn English and have many questions. This lesson focused on giving personal information, including introductions and etiquette.”