My day at The Big Issue


When Big Issue vendors in Melbourne rolled up their sleeves to receive a free flu vaccination donated by Bupa, Natasha Rao, Wellness Services Coordinator, volunteered to help. 

Written by Natasha Rao

I recently had the opportunity to concierge for the flu vaccination service at The Big Issue as part of my role in Bupa's Corporate Wellness team.

I had always seen people selling The Big Issue around the city, and I am friends with a freelance writer who has written a few articles for the magazine, but as I walked to the site, it dawned on me how little I knew about the organisation. In 1996, The Big Issue began in Australia to aid the increasing homeless population. Since then, The Big Issue has provided opportunities to disadvantaged people from various backgrounds to earn an income by selling the magazine at numerous locations around the country.

The first thing that caught my attention was how busy the building was. There were a few rooms from which people were bustling in and out. I met Helen, the nurse, and we promptly got started. I went out to the main area, braced and ready to convince everyone of the importance of the vaccinations, however, it wasn't long before a small crowd formed of people who were waiting to receive their vaccination. While they were waiting in line, some of the vendors were happy to have a chat and share their stories. It was great to see how many people were already aware of the dangers associated with the flu virus.

With the help of some of the staff, the consent forms were distributed and filled, and we vaccinated almost 30 people throughout the day.

We were there on the day of their fortnightly meeting where all the vendors were briefed on their sales, were informed of any updates and could purchase the new issue of the magazine to sell. It was great to see the level of support the vendors received from The Big Issue. The vendors were offered a hot meal and the chance to pick from a range of knitted scarfs, hats and mittens to keep them warm during the cold season.

I have been very fortunate to be a part of the Bupa Wellness flu program, organising flu vaccination services around the country. I feel even more fortunate to have been able to actually witness a service being executed; to have been able to see the direct impact of organisations like Bupa and The Big Issue in helping people that need it most.