Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Big Issue no longer coming up from the streets?"

My last post, and in regard to the Big Issue, that’s the Big Issue in Scotland and it’s new plan to distribute the magazine throughout Scotland by way of the social enterprise KibbleWorks; received a surprisingly but I must say, a friendly response from the Big Issue in Scotland on Twitter, and indeed a raw nerve must have been touched and not just by me I reckon.

Big Issue vendors are to be given the chance of employment training (however we all know what the job situation is like) after a deal was struck between the magazine and a Paisley-based social enterprise.

The partnership will see KibbleWorks – the job creation and training wing of Kibble Education and Care Centre – distribute the Big Issue magazine in Scotland.

As well as delivering 455,000 copies of the magazine a year to drop-off points in towns and cities up and down the country, KibbleWorks will service the Big Issue’s outreach programme, which supports the sellers.

KibbleWorks will also work with the Big Issue to create new opportunities for vendors and widen the magazine’s reach across Scotland.

This all sounds good one would think, and I must say that the franchise in Scotland is by far, one of the better operations in the UK when it comes to looking after the interests of its vendors, but I do have my reservations about this new move and in reflection to just how hard it is these days to move or rather sell magazine copies; the general public don’t carry money around like once they did and like all publications such as newspapers sales in Scotland have continued to fall and in June it was reported that figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) revealed that almost every national daily and Sunday title recorded declining numbers.
The only exception was the 'i' which reported an increase of almost 12% while all the major titles reported year-on-year decreases between June 2012 and last month. The falling circulations have hit tabloid, broadsheet and the mid-market. Some have reported large double digit percentage falls in average sales. The Big Issue is not exempt from this terminal decline and I believe that this is a contributing factor that has lead to the new partnership.

I would like to think that as a former Big Issue outreach worker with the London operation, that I may just know a thing or two about this business, both good and bad having pioneered a street sale operation that continues to this day, where trust is placed in individual vendors to sell stock to other venders on London streets, and I am very glad, pleased and delighted that this still continues which helps to build confidence and proves that homeless people can move mountains with nothing more than honesty, it’s the truth of existence that they have the ability to run this business.

Only today in the London Metro’ I fell across this lovely “Good Deed Feed”

“A big thank you to the homeless man next to the cash machine in Piccadilly who came after me to give me the £250 I accidently left in the ATM”.

Despite my twitter conversation with the Issue in Scotland my concerns remain, because KibbleWorks; will market the magazine among community groups, charities and voluntary organisations, who can raise funds by purchasing magazines at wholesale price to sell on to their members and supporters, therefore this seems to be a move away from a paper that is sold on the streets by the homeless and as we use to say; no longer coming up from the streets.

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