Volunteers for Denver Voice have been pounding the sidewalks this month for the US street paper’s first street recruitment drive to attract new vendors.
The organisation already signs up vendors at a local day shelter, but the new outreach project helped them connect to more people from harder to reach groups.
“Street recruitment gives us the opportunity to speak with individuals who may not use day shelter services,” said programme director Linette Hidalgo. “This type of direct outreach therefore broadens the circle of people we are connecting with.”
Like all INSP street papers, Denver Voice offers people who are facing homelessness and unemployment the opportunity to become micro-entrepreneurs. Vendors buy the paper for 50 cents and sell it on for a suggested donation of $2.
For the new recruitment drive, six volunteers set out to visit several areas in downtown Denver where rough sleeping is a common sight.
Linette said the response was encouraging. “Our first recruitment was very successful in terms of the number of people we reached and their openness to learning about the Denver Voice and the opportunity to earn an income through vending,” she added.
As well as talking to people and giving them information about the street paper, the volunteers also handed out packs containing food and water.
While many of the people approached expressed an interest in becoming vendors, others simply appreciated the chance to talk and share their stories, Linette said.
For other street papers thinking of trying street recruitment, Linette said that organisation is key.
“I would advise other papers to plan well before the event,” she added. “Be clear in your goal for this activity and communicate information to your volunteers so they are equipped to engage with individuals on the street and answer questions about the paper and organisation.”
Following the success of their first street outreach, the paper plans to continue the programme next year.