The Big Issue, being the leading agency in social change, offers some of the most excluded people in the country the opportunity to earn a legitimate income. Sales and Money week aims to explore the many ways in which individuals can be supported to become more financially included. The project seeks to deliver a week of activities focusing on increasing sales skills and Vendors’ income generation and improving money management amongst Big Issue Vendors.
2. What is Sales and Money Week?
The aim of Sales and Money week is to enable Big Issue vendors to make informed choices with regards to choosing the right financial products, in order to decrease the short term thinking some of our vendors display as they often live to meet their day-to-day needs. We also work with vendors to increase their magazine sales by reviewing their sales history and setting new targets, and to increase long term financial planning by working on budgeting and saving.
The 6 main themes were:
- Sales Training
- Sales Reviews & Pitch Management: Analysis of past individual sales patterns and setting short-term goals, identifying achievable milestones towards longer term personal sales and money aspirations
- Budgeting: Day- to-day budgeting and money management, including welfare benefits
- Banking: Improving knowledge of, and confidence in, financial products – particularly savings products
- Saving: Setting short-term goals and making short-term financial plans, particularly saving, to meet immediate personal goals such as magazines, clothes, household items or gadgets. Setting longer-term personal aspirations such as holidays, flats/houses, re-connecting with family and friends, as well as understanding their financial implications
- Debt: Overcoming financial problems, particularly pre-existing debt
Our work is underpinned by the theme of ‘goal setting’. Each step forward that a vendor takes, however small, is one step further away from the crisis that brought them to the streets.
- Money Surveys were be conducted with Vendors at least two weeks prior to Sales and Money Week.
- Workshops and drop ins delivered by local specialist agencies
- Workshops and drop ins delivered by our staff
- One to one sessions focusing on reviewing and setting personal sales targets
- One to one sessions and drop ins delivering money management information and advice with action plans
- Sales Training workshops
- Vendors Savings Scheme accounts were promoted as a first step towards increasing savings culture for magazine planning and obtaining tabards. They were also launched in offices where they hadn’t been available yet.
London had a lot of interest about new bank accounts; letters were received from various banks confirming the opening of new accounts, this is clearly a massive step into becoming financially included. Southampton Solent Credit Union received a lot of positive feedback, using the questionnaire as a great starting point to engage in conversations with vendors, being able to talk to them on an individual basis. Bath received high levels of support from over 12 different local businesses, who not only engaged in the workshops but offered wonderful donations for the raffle. The level of involvement was so high it received coverage from The Bath Chronicle, with a beautifully written piece by Betty Webb, one of our very own Big Issue volunteers. Birmingham and Bristol received a lot of interest in the benefit change workshops, with vendors showing a keen interest in becoming self employed rather than relying on benefits, which is a very positive outcome and a leap towards financial independence. Bristol also received a lot of interest in the debt management workshops, with some vendors even making further appointments for drop in sessions at the Bristol Debt Advice Centre. In Edinburgh the workshops targeted at Romanian women in particular seemed to be effective, with excellent goodie bags to offer, courtesy of the volunteers who managed to sort out lots of donations. Oxford pushed the idea of educating the public, helping them to understand how selling the Big Issue is distinct from begging, which was well received by the vendors who worked with the staff, offering great ideas.
The feedback we received from the vendor surveys proved very insightful and interesting, such as the bath office; most vendors work 5 days a week and had long term aspirations of going on holiday. The surveys also showed that 72% had experienced verbal or physical abuse whilst selling the magazine. The most popular response to “how do people show they care” was by stopping and having a chat with the vendors, this was over actually buying a magazine! The Bristol vendors also had some very positive responses, especially with regard to how they feel they should put themselves across, one vendor spoke about the importance of not letting customers who have helped them over the years down by disregarding how they appear to the public.
The overall feedback was very positive especially with regard to the questionnaires, highlighting high levels of vendor participation, in particular from vendors who work out of town. In grand total we had a staggering 240 vendors participating in the week overall with the highest amount of vendor participation from Bournemouth, an impressive 52 vendors! Every office stressed the excellent volunteer involvement, of which The Big Issue would be nothing without!
5. Support from Corporate and Voluntary Sectors
- Social Enterprise
- Bath College Careers Service
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Council Benefits Advice
- Bourneville College
- City Advice Bureau
- City saves Credit Union
- Dorset County Council
- Withywood Ventures
- Bristol Dept Advice Center
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Credit Union
- Crisis Skylight
- Social Bite Café
- Police Outreach
- Crisis Skylight
- Oxford City Council
- Solent Credit Union
- Frontline Dept Advice
- City Art Gallery