Shoppers in London’s famous Oxford Street were doing double takes on Wednesday when Love Island favourite Kaz Kamwi was out selling The Big Issue.
The star hit the pavements armed with a card reader and copies of the magazine to challenge herself to see how many copies she could sell in 30 minutes.
It was something of a homecoming for Kamwi, who undertook a six month placement with The Big Issue in Birmingham when she was a student.
Putting to use her gift of the gab, she got to experience the challenges sellers face when flogging the magazine. “It was really tough selling the magazine. It was intimidating, approaching people and getting their eye contact,” Kamwi said.
“People kept walking away, so I tried the technique of walking towards them with a big smile and offering compliments, but it was still challenging.”
“This is very different to my Love Island experience!” she added. “My Love Island experience – honestly, all I had to do was wake up and go downstairs in a bikini.”
Luckily, local vendor Paul Logan was on hand to offer his tips and advice for bringing in the customers. The pair even joined forces as a double act to sell some copies.
After 30 minutes of hard graft, Logan congratulated Kamwi for putting a decent dent in his pile of issues. Kamwi then spent the afternoon with the team to hear more about the work of The Big Issue and its sellers, who are self-employed and make £1.50 from each sale.
“It’s been wonderful, I have really enjoyed showing Kaz what it’s like selling the magazine,” Logan said of the experience.
After taking an interest in social justice while studying for her degree in sociology at Birmingham City University, Kamwi supported the team who visit vendors to see if they needed support, and helping out in the depot office.
“It was an absolute pleasure spending the day with The Big Issue given my previous experience working with them,” she said. “I think it’s so important and it really made me realise just what hard work the vendors are putting in.
“By buying a copy of the magazine, you are helping someone to change their life. I would urge everyone to, next time you see a Big Issue vendor, stop for a minute and pick up a copy if you can. It will make a huge difference to that vendor’s day.”
Chris Falchi-Stead, director of sales and operations, at The Big Issue, said: “The sell-off experience was a great opportunity to show Kaz, on a small scale, the challenges that our vendors face, day in, day out.”
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