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Just buy a Big Issue

16.06.17

Here in Winchester we have a VERY entertaining Big Issue seller called Kevin. He is a local celeb and is very successful with his pitch on the High Street. You never quite know what he is going to say as you innocently wander through the shops on your lunch break and I have witnessed some very funny and faintly shocking interactions between Kevin and his public.

The Big Issue is a very recognisable example of a social enterprise that we use extensively in our programmes, a brilliant example of a successful enterprise that has a clearly defined social purpose – as they say “a hand up not a hand out”. He may not know it but Kevin himself is a social entrepreneur, his effective promotion of Big Issue contributes to their success and raises the profile of the magazine he sells.

For those who may not be aware, Big Issue compile the magazine, sell the advertising and source high profile writers for articles, the same as any print edition that you can get in any newsagent. The difference is in the distribution – Kevin buys his copies of Big Issue from a distribution point and then sells on making a small profit for each magazine bought. This allows him a regular income, the step up to housing and the development of entrepreneurial skills that would benefit anyone. If you buy a Big Issue, you not only get a decent magazine but you are directly helping someone.

Kevin turns up in various places in Winchester, usually heard before seen but he has a sensitive side as well. He linked up with the bank and shops around his pitch to raise money for Children in Need – he raised more than £5k for them as the bank offered to match what he raised. Just after the Manchester attack, he laid out 22 flowers for the victims to link Winchester with Manchester, prompting photos and more flowers. He can often be seen in fancy dress – a 6ft tall Buzz Lightyear has to be seen to be believed!

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Recently SSE attended a Social Enterprise Mark Conference at the University of Winchester Business School; we brought out our information stand and gave away lots of Inspiring Enterprise pens. Also there was Kevin! Speaking at the conference was Nigel Kershaw, chair of the Big Issue group and if he attends any event he offers a promotion opportunity for the local Big Issue seller to get a spot as well.. Anna and I spent an evening hearing Kevin’s entire repertoire of dodgy jokes and heard some of his story; I think he would be an amazing speaker to get on our social enterprise programme, but are we ready for him!