A vendor forum was held in March which allowed vendors to raise any concerns about their working life. Six vendors attended and an individual from SUN (Service User Network) and were encouraged to discuss their experiences, complaints and ideas. The issues that were raised will be discussed with staff and management who will decide if any changes can be made to improve experience of selling for vendors.
If the suggested changes are not possible, the reasons for why will be fully explained to vendors at the next forum and they will be asked what else they feel could be done to address their issue. Minutes of the meeting and the responses will be typed and distributed to vendors to ensure that the process is fully accountable and to keep vendors engaged in the whole process. This forum will run once every 2 months and provide a valuable way for vendors to be heard by the management.
Manchester staff also completed 60 questionnaires with vendors during the first week of auditing. This process was very helpful in identifying areas that vendors have made progress in since they have begun selling the magazine. It also identified areas of need where we could support vendors by signposting them to relevant agencies.
The questionnaires are a valuable way to review our strengths and any areas for improvement in a more informal manner than the forum. For those vendors who would not wish to give up their time to the forum it ensures that they stil have a chance to raise concerns, ask for help or suggest new ways of doing things.