The whys and wherefores of how I became classed as a rogue vendor including why I dispute my debadgment/ban. I will also try to chronicle my actions and actions of my former wholesaler (2 managers in particular).
But first I wish to make it very clear I fully and wholeheartedly agree and promote the principle of a hand up instead of the usual hand outs. To be able to work is a privilege and essential for mental health and wellbeing. To be able to provide a product and hopefully a smile feels good on so many levels when most of my life its hand outs and punishment for any show of capability. This is why being a vendor of a street magazine was an extremely effective antidepressant for me. I had a purpose, my customers were waiting I was responsible for the success or failure of MY business, I gained self respect, self worth, self esteem. The smile I had on my pitch was genuine. To everyone who ever saw me selling the street magazine thank you, you gave me that smile.
However adverse environmental factors which I was discouraged from reporting but did anyway affected my health and I had to move pitches to one where there was 2 other businesses trying to make a living off less customers. I got the confirmation email that my previous pitch was clear asked wholesalers if I could move back and did. My health was still not great and I couldn’t meet the weekly target required to keep the pitch. The stress of that and increase in hate related crime combined with health that was still not great, physical infection was affecting the way I thought, I went on a bit of a journey. Won’t go into details but it was safer to be back in Edinburgh with the hate crimes I experience from a small group of other homeless people.
I think I forgot to ask if I could go back onto my usual pitch and went straight there. I was told by people who knew me from vending there that a new vendor was using the pitch. I phoned the office and asked for a new pitch to go to this request was repeatedly delayed, yes it wound me up.
I had magazines that I had paid £27.50 for and could sell for £55 I was told I could not sell them but my wholesalers did offer to recycle them for me. I did not intimidate any vendor the man who later told me in the night shelter he had been directed to take my usual pitch by a manager said he couldn’t ethically use a pitch someone else had spent the time building up. He also found it hilarious that anyone could think I could intimidate him.
I’ve also seen and heard about other vendors who have suddenly found another vendor selling from their usual pitch without any indication that the new vendor has equal right to sell on a pitch the original vendors have been selling on for months. It’s a miracle if this hasn’t lead to physical violence over pitches. Some vendors are less confident and more vulnerable to bullying than others who may be actual bullies. No checks are made on people when they get badged up first, the employee who took my photo and gave me my first badge seemed suprised I’d given my surname to them.
I’ve kept this all very quite for a few months selling the street magazine is the one real positive in the 3years I’ve been homeless. It would be a year of being badged up to vend next week. I truly believe and have promoted the principle of self help and am loath to tell the truth about this. I was given the chance to catch my own fish instead of being handed 1 fish every so often, if you get the metaphor. I’ve actively encouraged other homeless people in the area to try being a vendor themselves but the lack of training and formal encouragement has to be a factor in many giving up. I will never forget how one person apologised profusely that they had not been able to stick at being a vendor. They were really upset but felt they needed to apologise to me for failing, it wasn’t them that had failed. No foundation you see.
The problem is more deeply rooted than just me and the events I’ve described. The problem in Scotland but not England with this street magazine is that there is no foundation. Without the foundation the opportunity turns into something that is solely about money and feels a bit like exploitation.
The foundation provides vendor support and is more of a charity than a business.
So my pitch in Edinburgh where I have so many fond memories of awesome people I’ve met there some have brought a magazine some not but ALL awesome. This pitch on Rose Street/Castle Street is now a picket line where I will endeavour to be for the vending week until resolution can be found on the following points:
- Proper vendor training including basic book keeping plus support and active engagement to report earnings. Self employment is employment and under Homelessness legislation this equals a local connection. Not reporting means no connection. It may help remove any past intentionality that councils may have classed as the cause of a vendors homelessness.
- A framework for providing ongoing vendor opportunities in line with the goals they have. As described in the vendor agreement all vendors have to sign. Plus support required to help vendors reach they’re goals. This could be peer led, peer vendor coordinators or a staffed organisation.
- A review of the floating pitch badge which allows vendors to sell anywhere this seems at odds with the vendor agreement which states vendors have to sell on their allocated official pitch.
- A review of locations of new pitches as there seems to be a lot of pitches clustered around one area.
- Vendors’ to pay 40% of the cover price instead of 50%. A 50% break even rate for sales is very high. When the magazine was first sold on the street vendors paid 40% of cover price. The 50% and actual cover price puts off people who could benefit from vending.
- A real opportunity for vendors to contribute to the magazine at present theres only 1 picture of vendor produced content per edition. The definition of ‘street paper’ is being stretched by so little vendor created content.
- A complete Uturn and removal of the ‘nothing to be put in writing’ policy.
- An apology for the false accusations, loss of sales and personal risk that staff actions have caused me. And to be allowed to be a vendor again. The open ended indefinite ban is ridiculous. It’s a mark of how strongly I believe in the good of the magazines principles that I want to be a vendor again. The 2 managers I would be happy never to see or speak to again unfortunately you have to work with people you don’t want to in life. Its called being an adult.
The wholesalers have my email address and can contact via this means. My complaint that I submitted on 6th May via email seems to have been ignored.
Until then #naepasaran #shareasmile and join the #StrikeAgainstDiscrimination and right to #WorkNOTbeg