Stars in BIG sell-off to boost charity magazine

THERE are going to be some strangely familiar faces selling The Big Issue in Glasgow three days from now.

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  • It is hoped the event will raise the profile of homelessness in the city
    It is hoped the event will raise the profile of homelessness in the city
  • It is hoped the event will raise the profile of homelessness in the city

If you are lucky - and quick off the mark, between midday and 3pm, you might be able to buy a copy from radio presenter Shereen Nanjiani.

Actor and comedian Greg McHugh, whose glittering CV includes Gary Tank Commander, will be another of the sellers, as will Ally Dawson, the former Rangers and Scotland star. They will be joined by Alan Bissett, the author and playwright, whose books include Boyracers and Death of a Ladies' Man.

In fact, during Thursday and Friday, you will be able to catch a lot of well-known people selling the magazine - chief executives, managing directors (including our own MD Tim Blott) and, on Friday only, government ministers, including MSP and Evening Times columnist Humza Yousaf.

What's going on?

The answer, simply, is The Big Sell-Off - and it's the work of the Glasgow-based charity INSP, the International Network of Street Papers, and The Big Issue.

INSP, which marks its 20th birthday this year, supports more than 120 street papers in 40 countries, spanning two dozen languages and a combined readership of six million per edition.

The Big Sell-off is part of INSP's annual International Street Paper Vendor Week, which starts today.

Its aim is multi-purpose.

Maree Aldam, right, the general manager of INSP, said: "This gives us an oppor-tunity to enhance the profile of ourselves and The Big Issue north of the border.

"We also want to raise awareness of the amazing vendors who sell street papers - in Scotland and around the world.

"We are delighted to have the support of this amazing team of guest vendors this year in helping us to get the message across to people, about how hard Big Issue vendors work, and why they deserve our support."

Helen Harvey, the projects officer at INSP, said: "We also want to raise funds for both INSP and The Big Issue through the guest vendors' own JustGiving pages.

"We have paired all the guest vendors with a Big Issue vendor, and they will sell the magazine for one hour each.

"There will be an award for the guest vendor who sells the most copies."

The top vendor teams will be honoured at a ceremony in Glasgow's City Chambers next Thursday - the city's Lord Provost, Sadie Docherty, is patron of INSP.

GUEST vendors have been encouraging their colleagues, friends and families to sponsor them.

Petra Wend, principal and vice-chancellor of Edinburgh's Queen Margaret University - she will be selling The Big Issue in the capital on Thursday - is streets ahead of everyone else, having raised more than £1760.

Glasgow's Ross Martin, chief executive of the Scottish Council Development and Industry, has clearly been industrious, having raised more than £860.

The money raised by all the guest vendors will go to supporting INSP's work and helping The Big Issue to provide its vendors with winter clothing.

Jim Mullan, the newly-appointed group chief executive of The Big Issue, said: "This is a great opportunity to promote the work done by Maree and Helen and all at INSP.

"It's great to have an organisation here in Glasgow that has effectively taken the Big Issue model and supports it all across the world, from Kiev in Ukraine to Seoul in South Korea.

"Our aspiration is that when we do The Big Sell-off next year we do it across the UK.

"Our national and regional distribution model means that we are effective from Aberdeen down to Cornwall. Clearly, to have the biggest possible impact, and to have an opportunity for both INSP and ourselves, I think this could be expanded next year."

One benefit of this week's Big Sell-off, Jim added, was that the guest vendors would understand the challenges involved in being a vendor of the magazine, as well as the tenacity that lots of the vendors have to show in their daily work.

"I think that will be instructive and enlight-ening for the guest vendors."

Paul McNamee, editor of The Big Issue, said: "The Big Sell-off is really important. It's a wonderful thing to do because anything that raises awareness of the magazine and the difficulty vendors face every day trying to sell it, is worthwhile.

"You could ask what the guest vendors will learn from selling the magazine for an hour. But really, it's more about what they will then be able to tell everybody else out there.

"What we find is that advocacy on behalf of The Big Issue is important. If people are able to tell their friends and their peers - or their staff, in the case of senior executives - that this is what happens, this is how the magazine works, then it will really be a worthwhile exercise.

Paul added: "There is a good mix of guest vendors next week and there may be others who will get involved closer to the time."

l To support The Big Sell-off and your favourite guest vendor, go to www.street-papers.org/the-big-sell-off

TOMORROW: We talk to 2 guest vendors

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