Official Big Issue sellers in Brighton & Hove will soon be much easier to locate and identify following the introduction of branded pitches and uniforms.
Brighton & Hove City Council’s partnership community safety team has been working with the Big Issue, CRI, Sussex Police and city centre businesses to identify and mark up 20 pitches for homeless and vulnerably housed people to sell the magazine.
The partnership is aimed at tackling the issue of street begging and helping to make the city centre feel safer for shoppers.
Early indications are that the partnership approach is working. The street count in April showed that there were five beggars operating in the city, compared with 10 for the same period last year. In February there was just one.
The marking of the pitches coincides with the introduction of a nationwide uniform for vendors. The Big Issue, with the support of fair-trade wine company Fairhills, created the branded tabards in a bid to make genuine vendors more visible and approachable.
George Prall sells the Big Issue outside Boots in North Street . He said: “My approach has always been to encourage the public to buy and read the Big Issue. With a tabard I’ll sell more magazines. It makes me look professional and shows the public I’m a genuine professional wanting to earn money.”
Big Issue sellers have to sign up to a code of conduct and pitches are monitored, so shoppers feel safer and the vendors are better supported. Vendors buy the magazine for 50% of the cover price so have to carefully manage their sales and money. It is hoped that the combined effect of these measures will lead to an increase in sales and the integration of vendors into the community.
Councillor Dee Simson , Brighton & Hove’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “We are continually working with our partners to reduce antisocial behaviour but we need the public to help us too, by always buying and taking their magazine from an official Big Issue seller at a designated pitch rather than giving to those begging on streets. By giving to the Big Issue you are helping to get people out of the cycle of homelessness, begging and street drinking.”
The Big Issue’s Regional Manager Tristan Wallis , said: “We’re really pleased to be back in Brighton and value the support offered by local partners. Through working with them we hope to reduce instances of begging and anti-social behaviour and provide legitimate Big Issue vendors with every opportunity to maximise their income, hence the introduction of a uniform and clearly marked official pitches. These measures will ensure that our homeless and vulnerably housed vendors are safe, visible and approachable.”
Profits from magazine sales go to the Big Issue Foundation which supports local services, such as the council, in getting people off the street and into housing.
Sarah Mitchell, CRI’s service manager for the Rough Sleepers Street Services Relocation Team, said: “This multi-agency approach is invaluable in the success of supporting street homeless. It involves joint outreach shifts, attendance at joint planning meetings and regular information sharing – enabling services to offer focussed, planned support to an often hard-to-reach section of our community.”
Soozie Campbell, City Centre Manager for Brighton & Hove’s Business Forum, said: "This is a great initiative, particularly the uniforms, as it will really sort out the genuine Big Issue sellers from the fraudsters. This is important because most people do want to help those in need but they are losing the will to do that because they are continually being ripped off and taken for granted. Our Business Improvement District guards will be able to play an important part in policing this now as the guidelines will be quite clear."
Sergeant Siggs from the Street Community Neighbourhood Policing Team of Brighton & Hove Police said: "Having a very visible method for the members of the public to identity legitimate Big Issue vendors is a good step forward.
“Hopefully the public will have confidence in supporting legitimate Big Issue vendors rather than giving money to persons saying, "Would you please buy my last Big Issue?" only to be asked when you hand over money whether they can keep the magazine. Vending gives vendors a sense of pride that they are on those first steps back to work and provides the vendor with a structure to their day. I welcome the introduction of the uniforms."
There are 19 main pitches in the city. They are at:
- QS – Blatchington Road, Hove
- Peacocks – Blatchington Road , Hove
- WH Smith – George Street , Hove
- Tesco Metro – Lansdowne Street
- Waitrose – Western Road
- HMV – Western Road
- M & S – Western Road
- Air Street
- Waterstones – West Street
- St Pauls Church – West Street (no vending after 7pm)
- Body Shop – North Street
- East Street
- St James’s Street
- Gardner Street
- Sainsbury’s – New England Street
- Seven Dials
- Open Market – London Road
- Sainsbury’s – Lewes Road
There are also two training pitches at: Boots, corner of North Street/Queens Road ; 99p Store, North Street , one restricted pitch at Brighton Station and one weekend (10am-3.30pm) pitch in Kensington Gardens .
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Siggs, Sergeant Richard