12 May Tackling The Big Issue: Human Interactions [VIDEO]
‘Smile in the face of adversity’ is a motto to live by for The Big Issue vendors. On a journey to improve their lives, the vendors sell The Big Issue to an often disinterested public and are victims of the stigma attached to homelessness and street vendors.
Homelessness and the stigma surrounding it is a massive issue across the UK. Here we tell an important social impact story which challenges preconceptions by showing a day in the life of three hard working Big Issue vendors. We teamed up with The Big Issue Foundation to bring this short film of human interaction and awareness of homelessness. Pushed beyond their comfort zones, a group of trainee lawyers are challenged to sell The Big Issue on the streets of London. We follow the group and their friendly and positive vendor mentors who share their tips and tricks to making a sale.
With the rate of homelessness increasing, the work of The Big Issue Foundation has become more important than ever. According to the statistics provided by the government, in 2010, 1768 people were recorded sleeping rough on the streets of England. However in 2016 that figure more than doubled to 4134. Nonetheless, the official number of homeless people might just be the tip of the iceberg. The UK Statistics Authority deemed the statistics “untrustworthy” and most likely culminated during a single one-night “snapshot” or from local charities, police and homeless outreach teams.
Shelter, another charity devoted to helping the homeless, conducted its own survey and came to the conclusion that 250,000 people were homeless in England. This figure takes into account people living in hostels, temporary housing and waiting to be housed by social departments. unlike the government statistics which only counted those living on the street and other places not designed for living.
With large-scale homelessness in Britain, the associated stigma grows. However The Big Issue vendors challenge this stereotype and have sought out the Foundation’s self-help services to earn a legitimate income and improve their circumstances. The Big Issue has around 2000 vendors across the UK, earning an average of £100 per week.
Rather than just supplying magazines for the vendors to sell, The Big Issue Foundation gives them the skills and support they need to become socially and financially inclusive. The Foundation seeks to ensure their vendors have: temporary or permanent housing, access to healthcare and help with addiction, education and training to achieve their sales ambitions, financial counselling, and a chance to reconnect with family and friends.
The Big Issue Partnerships are a great way for businesses to support the vendors on their journey to a better life. Partnering with The Big Issue Foundation gives a company, its employees and customers an opportunity to change the stereotype of homelessness and support the determined community of vendors. Companies can get directly involved by holding team vendor days where employees spend a day on the streets, working alongside Big Issue vendors to sell the magazine. An opportunity to get direct insight into the life of a vendor, employees see first hand the problems they face and learn about their resilience and sales strategies. Please contact Serena Crisp (Serena.Crisp@bigissue.com) from the Big Issue Foundation to find out more.
If there’s anything to take away from this story, it’s that prior judgements and perceptions fuel stereotypes which separate us. It’s vital that we take every opportunity to connect as individuals and Big Issue vendor days are a great way to encourage this.
Click here to watch and read more of our stories.