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Big Issue Foundation

A Week in the life of a service broker: Liam Fitzmaurice, Bournemouth

It’s a long day but very rewarding as the vendors really enjoy sharing their experiences of how the foundation has supported them in moving forward with their lives.

Monday

My busiest and favourite day as it offers the opportunity to connect with the vendors in the office at the start of the new weekly magazine. My day starts with the team, booking pitches, selling magazines and discussing with vendors any issues that may have occurred over the weekend. We have quite a few new vendors who need a lot of encouragement and support. Midmorning I meet with Kevin to support him with accessing the VSF fund to gain ID (birth certificate) and then take him to Bournemouth Coastal credit union to open a bank account. Kevin is currently rough sleeping but wants to start saving towards a deposit for private rented accommodation.  At 2pm I take our new volunteer Heather into Bournemouth town centre to introduce her to the vendors and show her our designated pitches.  Heather really enjoys meeting the vendors and is looking forward to completing her induction.

Tuesday

Multi-agency meeting with the community mental health team and PAS housing and a vendor to resolve ongoing housing issues and mental health problems. My colleagues and I are interviewed by a former vendor who is currently studying English at Bournemouth uni, as the subject for the assignment is The Big Issue, which is very close to his heart; it was lovely to catch up with Paul and see how well he is doing and hear how he is really enjoying being at university even though he is finding the workload difficult.

Wednesday

I attend a monthly multi-agency meeting at Bournemouth council with other services focusing on 10 core rough sleepers in Bournemouth and discussing ways in which we can engage and support them to access housing services. On Wednesday afternoon as an office we like to mainly focus on getting out to see vendors on pitch as this can encourage them to speak more freely in their own environment. This also helps to have a visible presence within the community.

Thursday

I take two vendors to Bournemouth University and carry out an all-day humanisation workshop with 2nd-year nursing students. This isn’t only valuable in raising issues around homelessness, The Big Issue and the Big Issue Foundation but the vendors get paid for their time. It’s a long day but very rewarding as the vendors really enjoy sharing their experiences of how the foundation has supported them in moving forward with their lives.

Friday

I have our community mental health homeless lead worker Melissa run a mental health drop-in service to support our vendors with ongoing mental health support. Mike, our local PCSO, is also here talking to vendors and making sure that they do not have any problems; it’s a very busy office this morning. We are planning in the office for one of the Big Issue Foundation themed weeks, which will be focusing on all things aspirational; we have already booked in the National Careers Advice Service to hold a drop-in for our vendors and are planning other ways within the team that will encourage our vendors to think about what aspirations they may have and how we can support them in achieving their goals.

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Support your local vendor

Give your vendor a hand up and buy the magazine. Big Issue vendors are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. But, at the same time, they are micro-entrepreneurs. By supporting their business, you can help them overcome homelessness, financial instability and other social disadvantages that hold them back.

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