The Big Issue Foundation works hard to support vendors. Here are some facts and figures that celebrate their steps forward
Service Brokerage is our core work. Our frontline workers – Service Brokers – are trained to accurately identify the health, housing, employment and other support needs of a Big Issue vendor and provide expert information, advice and guidance best able to address these needs.
Over the last 12 months (April-March), your generous support enabled our network of Service Brokers to support over 1,050 Big Issue vendors to become financially independent and successfully re-integrate back into mainstream society. This resulted in 642 positive outcomes, encompassing:
Achieved personal sales goals
172 Big Issue vendors supported to increase their sales skills, build up a regular customer base and exceed weekly sales targets. Bath-based Gary achieved his goal of being top seller in Bath for three weeks, selling over 170 magazines each time.
Improved finances and money management
83 Big Issue vendors supported to improve their budgeting skills and address any underlying debt issues. With the help of Service Broker Becky, Grant was supported to contact his bank to sort out arrears he was accruing on an unarranged overdraft. He was initially very distressed about the situation but extremely relieved at the end of the call when the bank made a payment to clear the arrears.
Rehoused in suitable accommodation
60 Big Issue vendors supported to access safe and secure accommodation and prevent future homelessness by providing ongoing tenancy support. Thanks to the support of her Service Broker, Isabel was able to move into a new flat with Knightstone Housing Association.
Accessed health and wellbeing services
90 Big Issue vendors referred to GP, dentist, mental health and other specialist health services. Service Brokers work inpartnership with local health professionals to identify the physical and mental health needs of Big Issue vendors and make intelligent referrals to the right health services. In Bristol, Mike was supported by his Service Broker, Lewis, to register at the Broadmead Medical Centre and enrol with a GP in order to obtain a prescription for his long-term mental health problems.
Accessed addiction treatment
28 Big Issue vendors struggling with drugs and/or alcohol misuse were supported to access and remain engaged with addiction treatment programmes. In Nottingham, Mark successfully completed a heroin detox. He said he feels positive and wants to remain drug free. He physically looks much healthier.
Progressed into employment & volunteering opportunities
53 Big Issue vendors supported to explore future career opportunities. This includes harnessing the transferable skills vendors learn by selling the magazine and helping them update their CV, and with job search, interview coaching and completing job applications.
During his corporate placement with the Wellcome Trust in London, Big Issue vendor George was commissioned to write a paper on the physiological effects of depression in the context of working environments. George is hopeful that his paper will be published in the medical journal Open Access. “Wellcome has been kind to me in many ways, including designing business cards, a website and providing a laptop, as well as allowing me to attend the two-day course 'Presenting with Confidence'. This has provided encouragement and practical advice on setting up my own business providing an English editing service for biomedical manuscripts,” said George. “I have continued to write academic articles on a wide array of biomedical conditions, including breastfeeding, Alzheimer's disease and perinatal depression. I am currently putting something together on how the current biological underpinnings of mental health may have implications for large organisations, including Wellcome.”
Progressed into education and training
52 Big Issue vendors supported to add to their skills set and pursue aspirations. This includes referral to specialist training courses, e.g. Construction Skills Certification, Customer Service Skills and Railway Track & Signalling and relevant volunteer placements. Big Issue vendor John recently sat a CPC exam (Heavy Goods Vehicle Training) and achieved a 100% pass mark. This is significant step towards his goal of becoming an HGV driver.
Successfully obtained official ID
26 Big Issue vendors supported to gain official ID. A lack of ID is a huge barrier to vendors wishing to open a bank account, register an address and/or claim benefits (e.g. housing support). The most common forms of ID required are a birth certificate and/or passport. Service Brokers support vendors to gather all necessary documentation and contribute towards the fee through the Vendor Support Fund, if needed. Big Issue vendor Danny attended his passport appointment in Newport and received a new passport within weeks. He now has photographic ID which he can use to set up a bank account.
Improved relationships & achieved personal aspirations
78 Big Issue vendors supported to reconnect with family and achieve other personal aspirations.