Project information

Access/Ability programme

For a Big Issue vendor, regaining their citizenship is critical to progressing away from homelessness & in to employment. This work focuses on increasing opportunities for vendors to become economically active & financially independent to a greater & greater extend throughout their ‘Vendor Journey’

January 2013 - December 2013

Charity information: The Big Issue Foundation

The Big Issue Foundation logo
  • Need


    Vendors are disadvantaged & marginalised. Most start off sleeping rough, are vulnerable to physical & mental health problems, drug & alcohol addictions & family breakdown & are financially & socially excluded. Without official ID it is impossible to open a bank account, and without a bank account it’s difficult to receive benefits or pay rent & nearly all employers pay wages directly into a bank account. Without one vendors are forced to keep their money on their person & 1 in 3 have been mugged


    We work with vendors to regain their citizenship & reintegrate them into society; to make use of main stream services & access employment. We place strong emphasis on a saving culture for vendors to move on in a long term & sustainable manner. The skills learned selling The Big Issue are transferable. Vendors to gain work experience & access to employment which make prolonged changes to their lives.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Enable all vendors to earn a legitimate income


    » Perform regular new vendor inductions across all regions

    What success will look like

    Every new vendor (1801 in 2011) will receive an opportunity to earn their own income & receive a structured induction to The Big Issue & running their own micro-enterprise.

    Aim 2

    Support all vendors to increase their sales/income & reach their personal sales targets


    » Structured Sales training modules run by our volunteer street team to help increase sales & in turn hit their targets & secure a prime pitch
    » Peer mentoring from experienced vendors who perform on the street training and support with new, trainee vendors

    What success will look like

    All new vendors will receive direct support in their 1st 4 weeks of selling The Big Issue. 1563 vendors will achieve their personal sales goals

    Aim 3

    Support vendors to become financially included & to regain their citizenship


    » Providing a vendor savings account service to create a savings ethos and help vendors pay for future magazines & cope with emergencies
    » Offer Vendor Support Fund grants to vendors to gain official identification; birth certificate, passport and national insurance number
    » Support vendors to open a main stream bank account; to make savings, rent a flat, register for benefits or apply for a job on payroll
    » Run focused Sales and Money Week event

    What success will look like

    All vendors (5734 in 2011) will have access to in-house Vendor Savings Accounts. 74 will open a mainstream bank account.All have access to Vendor Support Fund to obtain official ID

    Aim 4

    Support vendors to achieve their personal aspirations


    » Provide advice & referrals made by our specialist Service Brokers
    » Facilitate vendors to reengage with family, take up hobbies, develop their interests and pursue their aspirations
    » Run focused Aspirations Week event

    What success will look like

    514 vendors will achieve their personal aspirations

    Aim 5

    Support vendors in to external employment


    » Upskill vendors through selling magazine; increase confidence, sales skills, and customer service for C.V.
    » Offer VSF grants to cover course fees, tools for work or specialist clothing such as chef’s whites or an interview suit
    » Access one of The Big Issue’s new corporate work placements providing an in house mentor & facilitated work experience in a corporate setting

    What success will look like

    55 vendors will enter training or education and 100 vendors will achieve their aspiration of finding work, volunteering or starting up their own business

  • Impact


    There are progression opportunities to become Vendor Coordinators; responsible for managing the magazine stock & sales process at ditribution points & for training up new vendors. We also hold partnerships with businesses for vendors to sell magazines within these firms, to develop in confidence & to seek mentoring & training within those companies. This is a good way to raise the profile of The Big Issue within the corporate setting & to challenge the stereotypes that many are subjected to.


    On average nearly 100 people turn to TBI every week for an opportunity to ‘help themselves’. To reduce frontline risk we would use utilize unrestricted reserves, increase volunteer no’s & identify efficiencies elsewhere. Should the capacity of external partners change, we are well placed to negotiate new relationships to ensure continuity of delivery. We are using our corporate partner networking forum to share learning & introduce new partners.


    We have a monitoring database that has records of all interactions. Through this system we will be able to monitor our progress & achievements. We will report to donors at the end of the programme and will keep them uptodate via our regular newsletter

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £134,418

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £57,080 Staff Proportional Service Broker salaries x 12
      £27,973 Staff Proportional Outreach & Street Team costs x 6
      £16,266 Premesis 9 Regional offices
      £22,401 Running costs Management & Running Costs
      £10,698 Activities 3 x Themed Weeks & Vendor Support Fund
  • Background


    This programme operates across 9 regional offices reaching over 5000 vendors. Last year just under 2000 of these were new vendors. They are all homeless or vulnerably housed. Self esteem and self worth are huge issues within the homeless community; “The ongoing exposure to insult and a lack of respect has meant that there is an entrenched sense of fear, danger and powerlessness for homeless people” (Centre for Housing)


    This programme of work is open to new and current Big Issue vendors (over 5000 last year) across our nine regional services

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The homeless are notoriously hard to reach & The Big Issue Foundation is in a unique position having a regular point of contact & building trusting relationships through the process of buying & selling the magazine. Without this many vendors would not find the help & opportunities available to them, or would be too intimidated to approach them alone.There are hundreds of agencies which provide specialist services for our client group. We do not compete with these; instead cultivating strong work

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    12 X Service Brokers

    SB's give vendors expert 1-2-1 support, ensuring that specific needs are met through multiagency channels & developing personal aspiration agendas

    4 X Outreach Staff

    Outreach primarily support vendors via street-based work. They ensure that individual personal sales goals and earning objectives are achieved.

    Volunteer Street Team

    This volunteer project provides on-street 1-2-1 support to new vendors in their first few weeks of selling, to help them get their businesses started

Big Issue believes in self-help; they offer ‘a hand up not a hand out’ & help people to take control of their own lives–and it certainly worked for me

London vendor