How the Great Big Issue Works! Part I

I thought it was about time in the scheme of things that I went over the basics of how the Big Issue works for the vendor on the street (ie. me), as even 22 years after it first appeared, many people still don’t how it is distributed, bought or sold.  To become a Big Issue vendor you must present yourself to the main office at Vauxhall, along with some sort of documentation that proves that you are homeless, vulnerably housed or in a hostel etc.  After filling in an application form you then have to present your self at a site in central London (there are a choice of 4 places) where you will be given five free copies of the Big Issue and you then have a training session in which you try to sell said five magazines.  If you are lucky enough to manage to sell anything (I didn’t!) you can then buy five more magazines at a reduced rate.  You have to complete four separate sessions of training like this before you are entitled to your permanent badge.  You are then given two weeks to raise £15 to pay a deposit on a Big Issue tabard and you can then think about where you would like to have a permanent pitch.  Every week you have to sell 35 magazines in order to entitle you to have a personal pitch which is detailed on your pitch permit.  You buy your magazines every week to sell on and you pay £1.25 for each one.  You then sell each Issue for £2.50 thereby earning half of the cover price as profit.  You will also find that people will give you a little change but insist that they do not want the magazine – so tips will be a part of your income too.  There is a lot of loyalty involved in selling the Big Issue and it is amazing how people will go out of their way to help you or to get anything that you need.  I will continue a little with this subject over the coming weeks in more detail and I will also mention some of my OWN regulars who are very special to me.  See you all soon on London Bridge, take care til’ then – love Sharon.

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