As a child, did you ever wish for the power of invisibility?
This week I had the opportunity to experience it, not as a power, but as a consequence of participating in The Big Issue’s fourth annual International Vendor Week.
First established in 2012 to shine a light on homelessness and disadvantage, it’s a week when prominent business leaders and politicians across Australia are encouraged to take 30 minutes out of their busy schedule to hit the streets and sell as many copies of the Big Issue magazine as they can.
Last Thursday morning I took up the challenge, donned The Big Issue’s trademark fluorescent vest, bright red hat and satchel full of magazines in an attempt to actively support this important and life-changing fundraising activity.
After a quick impromptu sales meeting with my Big Issue selling partner Russell, we took up position outside State Trustees’ headquarters in Footscray just after 8.30am in an effort to nab the coffee-clutching masses as they descended on the building to start their work day.
Russell and I quickly got into the swing of things and thanks to the exceptional generosity shown by employees of One McNab Avenue, we were soon struggling to keep up with demand as workers flocked to grab their copy. Many people stopped for a quick chat to find out more and I was particularly struck by the good will shown to both Russell and I as we embarked on our half-hour of power selling by many.
Sadly, I also felt what invisibility feels like, when people approaching you, only because you stand between them and their destination, choose to pretend that they haven’t seen you, haven’t heard you and really don’t want to engage with you.
Russell, my sales partner for the morning commented, “you get use to that”.
So next time you see someone selling a copy of The Big Issue, stop, acknowledge them, even of your not going to buy a copy, although I encourage you to do that as well, however, an acknowledgement alone makes a sustainable difference to a vendors day, coupled with a sale, its even better.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank The Big Issue, sales vendor Russell and the employees of One McNab Avenue for helping raise almost $400 for such a worthy cause. Not bad for a half hours’ work.
The Big Issue’s International Vendor Week helps raise awareness of the men and women who are striving to better their lives by selling street papers. In the past two decades The Big Issue has given more than 5,000 people the opportunity to earn an income through magazine sales, putting more than $21 million into vendors’ pockets. Proceeds from this week’s sales will go to local Big Issue offices to support activities such as their fortnightly vendor breakfast.
Media Coverage of the initiative can be found here [more to come in this weeks newspapers]: