News

How The Big Issue is tackling modern slavery

We have teamed up with charity Transforming Communities Together to co-develop a training programme for vendors which allows them to be the "eyes and ears" to report and tackle the issue

Vendor CREDIT: Kumar Sriskandan / Alamy Stock Photo

Any vulnerable person on the street is a potential target for traffickers looking for an opportunity to drag people into modern slavery and Big Issue vendors remain a target.

That’s why our Sales and Operation teams in the West Midlands has worked with charity Transforming Communities Together to produce a training programme to protect our vendors – and help them protect other homeless people.

Vendors are in a unique situation where they are out and about and the eyes and ears on the street and they will see a lot of things and, sadly, they are also quite vulnerable because traffickers are on the lookout for any vulnerability

Eight vendors attended the first class just before Christmas to illustrate the scenarios that can lead to modern slavery, with the hour-long session also translated to help breakdown language barriers with vendors from overseas.

“I thought that it would be a really good thing to do with Big Issue vendors from the point of view that it would be very empowering,” says James Henderson, lead development worker at Transforming Communities Together. “They are in a unique situation where they are out and about and the eyes and ears on the street and they will see a lot of things and, sadly, they are also quite vulnerable because traffickers are on the lookout for any vulnerability.”

As well as protecting vendors, advising them how they can share the information police needed to investigate modern slavery was also a crucial part of the programme.

They were trained on using a special intelligence form to feed information directly to West Midlands Police in a bid to build up relations – a key move in preventing people from falling between the cracks.

“We managed to get some good feedback from the vendors and they seemed really pleased. One of them is a member of a local church group and was really keen for their church to run this kind of training,” says James. “We’ve since had enquiries from colleagues in London and through our partnership with The Clewer Initiative we’ll hopefully be able to spread that far and wide.”

Big Issue Midlands service broker Gabi Sima added: “Slavery these days has just changed its form but still exists and people can be easily trapped in it.

“The session that we delivered was valuable for our vendors not only because it was accessible and easy to understand, in a language that they speak but also because they now know their rights and what support is available if they are experiencing modern slavery.

“The session was a joint effort and I am sure the message was there not only for the Big Issue vendors but reached a whole community who are at risk of being exploited.”

Image: Kumar Sriskandan/Alamy Stock Photo

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'Get a grip' and act on reality, not prejudice, MP Liam Fox tells his Tory colleagues
Liam Fox
Politics

'Get a grip' and act on reality, not prejudice, MP Liam Fox tells his Tory colleagues

Why the general election could and should be fought on the frontier of poverty
Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner on the first day of the general election campaign
General election 2024

Why the general election could and should be fought on the frontier of poverty

From the NHS to levelling up: Here are all the broken promises after 14 years of Tory rule
General Election 2024

From the NHS to levelling up: Here are all the broken promises after 14 years of Tory rule

'Nature is slowly healing': How rewilding is bringing Britain's extinct species back from the dead
Conservation

'Nature is slowly healing': How rewilding is bringing Britain's extinct species back from the dead

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know