Following the success of a similar event last year, when actor Maxine Peake was among the celebrities and politicians who sold the UK street paper for an hour, members of the general public are being encouraged to take on the challenge.
Emma Eaton, assistant director of Big Issue North’s fundraising projects explained: “We’ve done call-outs to politicians and celebrities in the last few years. But as vendors receive such good support day-in, day-out, we thought: wouldn’t it be great to give their customers the opportunity to have a go at selling the magazine?”
Big Issue North is one of dozens of street papers taking part in INSP’s #VendorWeek, which celebrates the 10,000 people selling street papers in 35 countries worldwide. This year, the event runs from 6-12 February.
The event will offer readers a unique experience, but Emma said her main hope was that it would help regular vendors to sell more magazines.
“Overall, we aim for it to increase sales for our vendors,” she added. “Knowing that they have public support – with members of the public wanting to take time out of their day to help them selling – is really heartening for vendors.”
Every reader will work alongside a regular vendor, who will offer the guests support and guidance. All the money earned by readers will go to the vendor who mentors them.
Big Issue North vendors buy magazines for £1.25 each and sell them on for £2.50, allowing them to earn an income.
Maxine Peake had a message for this year’s guest vendors, following her experience selling the paper alongside regular vendor Monica.
“It was really hard,” she said. “It was fun though – it was great to spend time with Monica. But people ignoring you and blanking you is a difficult thing, it was quite soul destroying. On the other hand, some people were lovely too.”
Emma said that Maxine’s experience of being ignored was something that Big Issue vendors frequently face.
She added: “Selling the magazine can be lonely and isolating. A lot of the feedback we hear from vendors is around them being ignored, but someone saying, ‘no thank you’ or ‘have a nice day’ can make a difference.”
Big Issue North’s fundraising projects’ communications manager, George Wright said they had been pleased with the response from their supporters.
“Twenty-five people have responded, across nine towns and cities in the North of England,” he said. “A lot of people are customers of vendors in their area, so in many cases they already know each other.”
If you would like to get involved with Big Issue North’s #VendorWeek event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about this year’s #VendorWeek here.