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Big Issue Foundation

A week in the life of a service broker: Sam Grief, Bristol

Every Tuesday the local rough sleepers’ Outreach Team join us on our outreach. We visit pitches and see how each vendor is doing. Chatting with vendors on their pitch allows them to be more open.

Monday

My busiest and my favourite time is when vendors come in to purchase the new magazine and I find out how they did with their sales the previous week. Chatting with vendors in the morning also gives me the chance to find out how they are. We have quite a few new vendors at the moment who need encouragement and support.

Later I meet a vendor who is rough sleeping and desperate to get into a hostel. His mental health is bad and he is struggling to cope. I encourage him to see the Homeless Health Care Team. Over 50 per cent of our vendors manage mental health issues.

Tuesday

We are planning a week of activities in November to help vendors manage their health. One vendor, Ian Duff [pictured above with Sam], suggested running a healthy eating session. An ex-chef, he is setting up a social enterprise called DuffCooks, to help people learn basic cooking skills.

Every Tuesday the local rough sleepers’ Outreach Team join us on our outreach. We visit pitches and see how each vendor is doing. Chatting with vendors on their pitch allows them to be more open.

Wednesday

In Bristol for a meeting about how we can offer our services to more vendors. We are planning to link with support agencies near some of our rural pitches. As a small team it can be tricky to get out and about, so will use our fantastic team of volunteers to help.

Thursday

A new volunteer starts with us this morning. Lauren is from America. She is here until December, so my colleague, Jim and I chat with her about what she would like to get involved in. Lauren is studying English so she is going to write case studies about our vendors to put up in local cafes near their pitches.

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Friday

Bath has seen a significant increase in begging, so today I meet with other agencies in the city to create a plan. We talk about what we can offer, but also realise we need the public to understand their role. Many of the people who are begging are trapped in that situation as people continue to give them money. This makes it difficult for the support services to encourage individuals to use the help available. Another meeting is fixed to see if we can involve the Council and local businesses to help us spread the word.

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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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