The Big Challenge

Don the iconic red jacket and become a Big Issue vendor for the day; selling the Big Issue magazine alongside our inspirational vendors in the heart of London’s financial district – experiencing the harsh reality between wealth and poverty.

Spending a day on the streets working alongside Big Issue vendors is an incredibly insightful experience. You will discover what it is like to sell the magazine and see first hand some of the challenges that Big Issue vendors face on a daily basis – learning about their resilience and sales strategies.

Big Issue vendors are tenacious; setting up their micro-enterprises in the midst of real adversity. So as well as raising awareness of the issues surrounding homelessness and poverty, the experience is equally inspiring and humbling.

Set up as ‘The Apprentice’ style challenge the Big Challenge is a great initiative for motivational team building whilst honing customer engagement and creative sales techniques; sitting well within the learning and development space. It also meets social and financial inclusion objectives as vendors appreciate the camaraderie as well as the extra sales made during the day.

Law firms Freshfields, Simmons & Simmons and Gowling WLG have all endorsed the experience by implementing it as a key aspect of their trainee lawyer induction programme; resulting in over 120 trainee lawyers taking part each year.

Our feedback to date highlights that the experience has made a considerable impact to the lives of those that have participated. Making them more likely to engage with a Big Issue vendor or an excluded or homeless person in the future; leading to societal change. From the Big Issue vendor’s perspective, they tangibly feel the sense of solidarity and friendship from the day.

As we deliver the experience we can be flexible with the format and have worked with a range of organisations to tailor the day to their requirements:

  • RBS – Big Leadership Challenge
  • Teach First – Big Leadership Challenge
  • HSBC – Big Sales Challenge
  • Dennis Publishing – Big Sales Challenge
  • Freshfields – Big CSR Challenge (Trainee lawyer induction)
  • Gowling WLG – Big CSR Challenge (Trainee lawyer induction)
  • Simmons & Simmons – Big CSR Challenge Induction (Trainee lawyer induction)
  • Wellcome Trust – Big Impact Challenge – volunteer day
  • Dunnhumby – Big Impact Challenge – volunteer day
  • Enterprise Students – Big Enterprise Challenge
  • Royal College of Nursing – Big Leadership Challenge
  • MUFG – Big Impact Challenge – volunteer day

We can incorporate up to 25 people, and includes a full brief and debrief, and approximately 3 hours selling on the streets in pairs, matched with a Big Issue vendor.

To read a full account of the experience from another participant click here.

Quotes

“What a fantastic experience. It was humbling and eye opening and taught me so much which destroyed any misconceptions I had inherited from others. The Big Issue vendors inspired me as they are people who are taking their current situation into their own hands and making a future for themselves with the support and encouragement of The Big Issue Foundation.”
Zoe, Freshfields

“People assumed I was homeless, mothers grabbed the hand of their kids and others clutched onto their bags. I felt this was an attack on my character, making me feel small and worthless. As my mood levels dropped it occurred to me that throughout the day I was simply viewing various forms of myself. For before this experience I too shunned the Big Issue’s sellers.”
Tony Penn, Regional Head of Wealth Management, HSBC

“It was a good and insightful experience to be a Big Issue vendor for a day, experiencing first-hand the difficulties that they might face every day – standing for long hours, coping with harsh weather, being ignored and avoided.”
Louise, MUFG

“On reflection, it was a little bit like undertaking one of those sales tasks in an early-series episode of The Apprentice. A huge buzz from being dunked in the deep-end. And with it, lots of raw emotion.”

For more information on the Big Challenge please contact Serena Crisp, Head of Partnerships & Philanthropy on 020 7526 3452 or by email serena.crisp@bigissue.com