As some restrictions have been eased, many vendors have been in touch to ask when they can get back to selling the magazine. The honest answer is we don’t know.
Regular phone calls provide advice and guidance as well as emotional and financial support to Big Issue vendors.
Several vendors have begun engaging with The Big Issue Foundation for the first time since lock down. All are glad of the support that they have received, and the opportunity for a chat.
One vendor has been keeping in touch with us via a friends phone. We have used funds from the Vendor Support Fund to purchase a phone for them with credit. This will give them an extra inch of independence during this time and enable them to stay in contact more easily.
We have been connecting vendors to ensure they are housed during the lockdown but are also looking at ways to prevent rough sleeping for vendors beyond lockdown.
A vendor has moved after a break down in relationship. He needed clothes as he left everything that he had there. We have used the Vendor Support Fund to get him some clothes and other essentials. He has also been offered a property in Birmingham but is staying with a friend in Burton, so we have also paid for train his fare so he can collect the keys on Saturday.
Vendors are still living through difficult times beyond those created by the pandemic.
Very sadly, a vendor’s mother has passed away during the lockdown. He said he had buried his head in the sand since, but the hospital had called him and explained that they need to make arrangements for the funeral. He didn’t know where to start. We have helped to complete the application for the death certificate and paid for it using the Vendor Support Fund. We have also provided funds for the vendor to purchase a suit for the funeral.
Finances remain a huge issue for Big Issue vendors who lost their income overnight.
A vendor in London has been massively affected by being unable to sell the magazine, both financially and mentally. He receives universal credit which covers housing costs and some utility bills however, he is in extreme debt. We have got in touch with the debt companies and have frozen some accounts as well as arranged re-payment plans for others. We have also used the Vendor Support Fund to purchase a mini oven and kettle for him as both these items recently broke. He lives in a housing association property and has been living there for many years. Usually they would help with replacing his oven however he is extremely worried about letting anyone come into his house as he is very frightened about catching the virus. We continue to keep in regular contact for emotional support.
Vendors are able to get emergency credit from many utilities suppliers, but this leaves them in debt as it does need to be paid back in future. We have been alleviating this problem by providing up to £100 to pay for utilities during this time. We want to ensure that vendors can continue to keep the lights on, have hot water and be able to cook at home.
Vendors are remaining positive about the future and we continue to support them in ways that will continue to benefit post-lockdown.
Several vendors have gotten in touch to ask for advice on budgeting their money more effectively. Although out of necessity, this is a life skill that will enable them to become more financially independent in future. We have looked at eliminating essential spending for now and provided links to useful online tools for those that have internet access.
One vendor who has had the virus, is now recovering well. Before the lockdown, they had begun working as a piano teacher alongside selling The Big Issue. He would like the opportunity to practice his piano skills so that he can hopefully return to work as piano teacher soon. We are investigating the possibility of getting him a keyboard that he can use at his flat.
Every vendor’s needs will be unique as every person’s situation is unique and thanks to your support, we will support each individuals needs as best we can.