Big Issue Group and leading drinks manufacturer and distributor C&C Group have teamed up for an exciting new partnership to create even more opportunities for Big Issue vendors, social enterprises and communities in a three-year collaboration.
So how does such a company work with a social enterprise to change lives through enterprise, I hear you ask?
The partnership will cover four core areas, across education, training and employment programmes for Big Issue vendors, mentoring, and developing joint campaigns on social issues and fundraising initiatives.
Big Issue journalist Evie Breese sat down with C&C’s corporate affairs & communications director, Richard Hayhoe, to find out more about what this three-year partnership will entail and why working on societal issues is important for private business.
Q: So Richard, what drew C&C to working with Big Issue Group?
We’re very conscious that being in the hospitality business, we touch every area of society, and we’ve made a commitment to give back to the communities which we serve.
We’ve already been working in areas such as homelessness, addiction, food poverty and mental health for a number of years. And I think we’ve got quite a close alignment with a lot of Big Issue Group’s missions, and it seemed an obvious choice, actually.
Q: That’s really interesting that you give back to communities, not a lot of companies do that. What does that mean exactly?
Ok, so for example, we previously had a training academy at our Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow where we’ve trained over 40,000 students over the last decade in courses from basic life skills to cocktail making and working in a professional kitchen. We wanted to offer people in our community the skills they needed in order to be able to achieve a job in hospitality, so that we can share our business success with the local area that has built us.
Q: So what will this new partnership with Big Issue Group actually involve?
Of course we hope that the financial support from a business of our size will really be able to help the Big Issue with its mission, but we want this to go beyond money.
At C&C we have loads of experiences and skills we want to share with people to help them progress in their careers, too. There’s a great opportunity to transfer skills across a huge range of areas. We’ve got nearly 3,000 employees across our business, everyone from digital marketers and IT specialists to finance people. And they’ve got a great skill base so, through mentoring, we’ll help some of the people the Big Issue Group supports, upskilling them and helping them to transition back into employment or an internship opportunity.
And for our colleagues here at C&C, we want everyone to be more aware of what it’s like to deal with homelessness and other complex societal issues today. This partnership gives our people the opportunity to get involved in things like vendor days, and to get to build relationships with some of Big Issue vendors through sheltered pitches.
Q: And this is a two way street isn’t it – what does C&C hope to get out of it?
There’s a massive labour shortage in the hospitality industry right now – in July there were some 180,000 vacancies. And we have numerous roles to fill across all functions within our own business. It seems a shame that there’s people who are wanting to get into permanent work, but maybe haven’t taken a traditional career path so could miss out on those opportunities.
The great thing about our business and the industry is that aptitude and enthusiasm and energy can take you a long way, even if you don’t have certain qualifications or technical skills right now.
We’ve got loads of resources available to us to upskill people who want to join us. So, if you’re enthusiastic, willing to learn and have great energy, then we’re keen for you to have a successful career with us. You could join us as a lorry driver and then end up running a logistics operation.
By diversifying the people we have as part of our business at C&C, we’re future-proofing ourselves and building our own pool of skills, experiences and talent, while supporting the communities we serve.
Q What would you say to a Big Issue vendor who might be reading this magazine before their next sale?
With 30 locations up and down the UK, we’re never far from a Big Issue vendor. We’d love there to be opportunities to support them with sheltered pitches where vendors can connect with our colleagues. We want everybody to be involved.
Mentoring is something we’ve done on a small scale before, but this partnership is a chance to offer this to vendors. We’ve got colleagues that do want to help and do want to actively participate.
If you have an interest in working in hospitality, we’d love to see how we can get you on your way with your career. We want to offer opportunities to upskill vendors to get them ready to transition into work. And, you know, the greatest success of this for me would be to see some of these people that the Big Issue Group are helping right now becoming future employees of C&C Group.
Q: Can you tell me some things that you’ve learned about Big Issue Group that maybe you didn’t know before you embarked on this partnership?
My exposure to Big Issue Group has typically only been through meeting vendors. There are so many other branches to what the group does I was unaware of!
As we began to have discussions about a potential partnership, we looked into Big Issue Group’s plans and what you guys are doing to help upskill people, supporting people getting back into employment really struck a chord with us.
We also found out about Big Issue Invest, and how this investment branch helps small socially-minded businesses to take their first big step. We run a very large operation, and the skills that we use every day and that are very valuable to our business, sometimes we can take them for granted. But these can be transferred to smaller businesses and we’re excited to help other organisations prosper.
Together, C&C and Big Issue Group will focus on and support four wide-reaching social programmes tackling challenges and providing social and economic opportunities for Big Issue vendors, people from underrepresented and less privileged backgrounds, social enterprises and charities as part of Big Issue Group’s projects across:
Sheltered pitches and on-street initiatives – supporting vendors to reach more customers and access more opportunities to earn and learn
Big Issue Breakthrough and Big Issue Invest investee mentoring – offering practical mentoring, training and skills development to the individuals and organisation Big Issue Group supports
Employability programme – providing people facing barriers to work with the opportunity to transition into supported employment
Cause-related marketing campaigns – collaborating on joint campaigns, including colleague fundraising initiatives
Keep your eyes peeled in future editions of the Big Issue magazine and on BigIssue.com for more news on how the two organisations will be bringing opportunity for more people.
With thousands of employees across communities in the UK and Ireland, it’s set to be an exciting partnership over the next three years with C&C Group.
When most people think about the Big Issue, they think of vendors selling the Big Issue magazines on the streets – and we are immensely proud of this. In 2022 alone, we worked with 10% more vendors and these vendors earned £3.76 million in collective income. There is much more to the work we do at the Big Issue Group, our mission is to create innovative solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunity for the 14million people in the UK living in poverty.