The Big Issue vendor’s socially enterprising venture.
Big Issue vendor Ian Duff explains the goals of his ‘Duff Cooks’ social enterprise and its aim of helping others.
It’s been a long year for me with some highs and lows the high was starting my social enterprise ‘Duff Cooks’ and the lows the death of my father.
I started ‘Duffcook’s as a means to give something back. It is a social enterprise that will help the homeless and long term unemployed learn how to cook the basics and how to eat to feel good .The idea is a simple one, I offer an at home catering service and monies earned through this help me to teach people to cook. So far I have run several drop-in sessions with the help of DHI Project which have proved popular but I want to expand on that to reach out to more people and set up a more established work shop.
So far I have catered for a handful of people who have enjoyed the experience; its like a ‘come dine with me’ set up without being in the kitchen all night and not enjoying your guests! I come along to your house and I cook in your kitchen using your equipment. I serve the meal to you and your guests and even do all the washing up for no charge.
So that’s how simple it is, there are no charges until you finish your meal and’ unlike other catering firms’, I cut the costs by using your kitchen plates and cutlery.
None of this would be possible without the Big Issue. I have now been a vendor for 5 years and I love my job; it gets me out meeting all the great people of Bath and it gives me the means to have my own income. I can also have my dog Boycie with me, which he loves. He has his own fan base and gets lots of love and treats on a daily basis…maybe a few to many treats! Also having support from the Big Issue Foundation has helped me to set goals and helped with the cost of a fridge and a washing machine.
In the last year I have also done a few talks with outside agencies, raising awareness of the Big Issue and the Foundation. Everywhere we go people are amazed at what we do as vendors, not only are we making an honest living we are trying to improve are social standing and move on from homelessness. It’s all about awareness. The most asked questions are ‘do you get the mag for free?’ and ‘do you have somewhere to live and, if you do, why are you still selling?’ These are great questions and ones I love to give the answer to on a daily basis; it means people are interested to find out.
I recently was asked to do a talk at a language college which was supposed to last for 15 minutes it ended up being one and a half hours long; again showing that people want to know. From that talk I now have 3 more regular buyers!
I also love using social media tools. You can follow me on facebook, twitter and on my website DuffCooks.com I tweet daily not only to boost my sales but all vendors’ sales here and even in Australia. I have also invested in a card reader so that I can take credit card payments.
Back to Duff Cooks, I have also established a network of local suppliers. Going local is another great way to help your local community like Tunley Farm Butchers. They help me with all my meat needs, giving great value and good product, which all comes from local farms. It is important to me as a chef to get the best ingredients for my customers; buying the best when you can, makes all the difference to your food. So all I need now is for you to order and I can get on with setting up a better workshop to help those who need it.
The above article by Ian Duff first published on bigissue.org.uk in 2015.