Inspired by a similar project from Greek street paper Shedia, Invisible Edinburgh will reveal the hidden corners of Scotland’s capital city by employing homeless and formerly homeless people as their tour guides. INSP attended the project launch to find out more from the project’s founder Zakia Moulaoui, who has also worked with the Homeless World Cup, and future tour guide Biffy, whose unique city tour will be on the theme of ‘Powerful Women’.
In Ethiopia, protests over the rights of the country’s Oromo people – Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group – continue to put pressure on a government which holds a bloody history of “pacifying” peaceful protests. The protests stem from the Ethiopian government’s plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa’s limits into Oromia. But observers tell IPS that the Oromo’s frustrations over issues such as land ownership, corruption, and political and economic marginalisation are shared by many disenchanted Ethiopians.
A formerly homeless street paper vendor from Michigan has created an activity book to help children and their parents better understand homelessness. Randy Parcher has experienced homeless in Traverse City for seven years and has sold and written for Speak Up since the paper launched in 2014. He hopes his book – aimed at children aged seven and under – will also act as a fun teaching tool in schools.
A much-loved former Big Issue vendor has launched her own with solo art show. When Jo Adamson sold The Big Issue in Glasgow, Scotland, she was well-known for her creativity – singing as she sold the paper. Now she is inspiring her former colleagues by starting her own visual art business, despite being partially sighted. INSP spoke to Jo as she hung her paintings ahead of the exhibition.
This April, The Big Issue UK celebrates 200 million magazines sold across Britain over the last 25 years – every one of them putting money in the pocket of someone living in homelessness or poverty. In following the simple mantra ‘A hand up not a hand-out’, the street paper has allowed the poorest in Britain to earn more than £100 million. Celebrations included a collectors’ edition of the magazine with cover art by street artist Ben Eine and national news coverage.
When he found himself homeless after a break-up, Bud Stratford’s experiences turned him into a homelessness activist. Volunteering as INSP’s LA correspondent, he recently covered the latest in a long line of confrontations between the city’s well-known Tiny House builder Elvis Summers and the authorities. He found city officials very resistant to the tiny house movement sweeping across the US – and competing explanations for why that is.
When Bud Stratford became homeless, he had people to turn to. His father let him set up a tiny makeshift home in the parking lot of the family business, where Bud worked. But he quickly realized others weren’t so lucky. His experiences offering help to a fellow homeless man called Dave, showed Bud that in the USA the very right to exist is contingent on owning property. He is now a committed advocate for homeless people - and for the controversial Tiny Homes movement currently battling against the local government in LA.
Amputee football may not be the most recognisable of disability sports, but the fast-paced and competitive game is slowly growing in popularity. INSP meets the amputee football players, coaches and advocates working to promote the sport around the world. Their ultimate goal is to compete at the Paralympics.
Things looked bleak for Joel Hodgson when he was first forced to sleep rough in London seven years ago. But today, Joel works for one of the city’s biggest law firms on Fleet Street, and was even a torch bearer at the London 2012 Olympics. The turning point was when he walked through the door of The Big Issue, he says. Joel recounts his extraordinary journey.
Hundreds of homeless men and women in London are to benefit from recycled laptops. The ‘Laptops for Homeless Support Initiative’ restores unwanted hardware then donates the devices to homeless and vulnerable people supported by London charity Thames Reach, which also provides IT skills training. INSP learns how having access to the internet will make a huge difference to people like Peter Gibbs, who has been homeless on and off for 11 years in the UK capital.
Since the start of 2016, four homeless people have died in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A reclusive “mad inventor” is harnessing the goodwill of the people of Belfast to help the local homeless community, as they face this deadly crisis. Good Samaritans from across the city have been leaving donations of clothing and toiletries in a set of ‘Kindness Drawers’ which appeared in Victoria Street, in the centre of town, on New Year’s Eve. The drawers are unsupervised and rely on the kindness of strangers to provide essentials to vulnerable people.
A former editor of Swedish street paper, Faktum, discusses his ambitious plans to launch a similar project in Bucharest. Aaron Israelson believes Romania, which has long been crippled by poverty and corruption, is in dire need of a unique, independent media voice to tackle both issues head on. He’s optimistic, but in a country where the print industry is on its knees, INSP’s Laura Smith learns that there are major challenges ahead.
America’s newest street paper has launched in Lowell, Massachusetts. Like many cities in the US, Lowell has recently been attempting to crack down on panhandling. The Catalyst’s founder, Ryan White, hopes the paper will have strong support as an alternative – and will help change people’s perception of homelessness. INSP speaks to Ryan and to Richard, one of the first vendors to sign up to sell The Catalyst, about their hopes for the future.
The editor of Hinz&Kunzt recently received a prestigious award for her tireless commitment to helping homeless and socially vulnerable people in Hamburg. Birgit Mueller was given the Federal Cross of Merit [Bundesverdienstkreuz], one of the highest honours bestowed in Germany, in recognition of her 23-year career at Hinz&Kunzt. Mueller spoke to INSP about her unusual request for the award’s presentation, as well as the highs and lows of her life in street papers.
The stars of Edinburgh Rugby might be used to some hard knocks, but they had a whole new challenge selling The Big Issue for INSP’s #VendorWeek. Players Nasi Manu and Allan Dell joined a competitive team of lawyers and CEOs in the Scottish capital. In Manchester, actress Maxine Peake sold Big Issue North for an hour alongside her regular vendor Monica. Find out how they got on.
Some of the biggest names in publishing took on the daunting task of selling The Big Issue on the streets of London last week to kick off INSP’s UK #VendorWeek events. Guardian columnist Owen Jones, editor (and sister of the London Mayor) Rachel Johnson, Buzzfeed’s Luke Lewis and Kerrang! editor James McMahon told us about the eye-opening experience.
So it turns out even a seven-foot angry sun can feel invisible while selling a street paper. David Shrigley-designed Partick Thistle mascot, Kingsley sold The Big Issue in Glasgow alongside local music icon Stuart Murdoch (of Belle and Sebastian fame) and a range of famous faces, media figures and business leaders in Glasgow last week for INSP’s #VendorWeek.
Street paper vendors earned a total of £23.4 million last year, according to new figures collated by INSP ahead of this year’s #VendorWeek. Over the last year, our global network helped 27,000 people earn an income and enjoyed a collective readership of 5.6 million. “It’s a testament to the strength of the enterprising model that – in challenging times for mainstream print media – 23.5 million street papers were sold last year,” says INSP Chief Executive Maree Aldam. Vendors around the world also tell us about the life-changing power of street papers.
Last month, street papers from across the U.S. united to report on National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day, coordinated by INSP and Washington D.C. paper Street Sense. Since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless has encouraged communities to host public events on or near 21 December – the longest night of the year – to remember those who have lost their lives while experiencing homelessness. Reporters and vendors from street papers in Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Boston share accounts and photos of memorial services and vigils held in each city.
Swedish street paper Faktum enlisted Condé Nast Traveller’s Håkan Ludwigson and fellow Swedish photographer Bo Kågerud to capture how vendors spend their time after work. These vibrant and candid portraits of vendors in the various places they call home form the basis of the paper’s 2016 annual calendar, titled Thank God It’s Friday.