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.