Today we have a great team from Dunnhumby out on the streets of London, finding out what it’s like to sell The Big Issue. All the money raised by the volunteers goes to the vendors who are providing expert training & advice in the art of face-to-face sales.
Imagine losing the most important things in your life, perhaps your home, your relationship(s), your sense of yourself…Not everyone’s response to such extreme experiences would be to start their own business. But that is exactly what Big Issue vendors are doing. The magazine is sold exclusively to people who are experiencing extreme social & financial exclusion, often with periods of “homelessness” in the mix. Vendors buy their magazines with their own cash & sell at their own profit or loss. Each magazine costs them £1.25 & they sell it on for £2.50 per copy. We do not buy back unsold copies.
Many people facing extreme exclusion spend a lot of their time on their own, looking inward & struggling to connect to the world. But in order to sell your product you have to engage with your customers, strike up relationships & encourage people to cross a social divide & put their money into your “homeless” hand. At the same time, the high visibility red jacket draws attention to your presence on the street & that is where some of the other issues begin. For many “homelessness” engenders a judgement, some ideas about the worthy & the unworthy poor. It is not uncommon for people to share those views. It’s unlikely that someone might walk into your office & tell you to get a job. It happens to our vendors a lot on the street.
The Big Issue journey begins with a sale and also provides vendors with support with personal finances, healthcare & accommodation.
So hats off to the team from Dunnhumby for taking some positive action on the streets. Our work is only possible because of the support we receive. People often say that people who are homeless are lazy. Being homeless is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Get your organisation involved, support your local vendor, have a chat when you are buying a copy, & do even more. Everyone can be an activist.