How did homelessness begin in the world
International Network of Street Papers turns 20
A great idea conquers the world
With only a few signs of a financial upturn in everyday life and an alarmingly rapid increase in demand from charitable food distribution points around the world, the number of destitute and homeless people is growing. Many live in severe poverty or sleep on the streets and only survive by selling street magazines.
Hard work and day-to-day income are slowly moving out of poverty, and street magazine vendors around the world are changing the way people think about homelessness and highlighting the importance of street papers around the world. The International Network of Street Papers (INSP) supports 122 street magazines and 28,000 vendors globally, and the network turns 20 this year.
For many people who live in poverty or on the streets, selling street magazines can save their lives. Once they are given their first deals and have a place to sell, they are small businesses that are earning their way out of poverty. All over the world, street newspapers are helping their salespeople out of homelessness, not just with the newspaper itself but with dedicated social workers and programs tailored to the individual needs of salespeople.
From its headquarters in Glasgow, Scotland, the International Network of Street News Papers (INSP) supports 122 street newspapers worldwide in the start-up phase, in terms of editing, in introducing employees and salespeople, in financing, in building networks and helping people to raise awareness of the growing problem of homelessness. INSP was founded in 1994 and this year is celebrating 20 years of collaboration with the Street Newspaper Movement.
During this period, INSP members' readership has grown to a total of 6 million worldwide and their 28,000 salespeople have made over 40 million US dollars this year. Our salespeople's personal stories show that the strength of the street newspaper movement lies in saving lives and changing public opinion about homelessness.
Seller and artist Partick Jansen, who sells the street newspaper fiftyfifty in Düsseldorf, started using heroin because of problems at home. Drug use resulted in homelessness and he became infected with HIV. Selling the street magazine gave him a goal and helped him come to terms with his diagnosis and look ahead, especially fiftyfifty's unique art projects. "I've been selling fiftyfifty since July 2008, I'm now clean and do everything the employment office offers me. I paint again, with brushes and on the screen and when I have enough pictures I can exhibit them in the fiftyfifty gallery. I look now into the future, because you can't change the past, "says Jansen.
Emma Folan, a north English saleswoman for The Big Issue in the North, has learning difficulties and has suffered from depression for years after ending a violent relationship. Emma explains, "Selling The Big Issue in the North helps me cope with my mental health problems. It gives me a reason to get up in the morning. If I didn't have that motivation, I'd just sit around at home and feel sorry for myself. It. It." is really a lifeline for me. My message to the homeless is that if I can manage my life despite everything I've been through, then anyone can. " Emma points out that homelessness is often stigmatized, but that salespeople like her help change public perceptions. "I think some people think that all street vendors have alcohol or drug addiction, but that's not the case. Anyone can get in trouble at one point. The Big Issue in the North also helps those at risk," she says.
Indeed, the number of food distributors in all parts of the world is growing and food stations are being burdened to the limit as little money is invested in such life-saving programs. It is often said that most people are only two months' salary away from homelessness. One seller who can sign this is Reginald Black, a homeless man in the US capital, Washington DC, where an estimated one-fifth of the population lives in poverty.
Reginald started selling Street Sense in 2008. Since then, Reginald has not only sold the newspaper, but also made a contribution in the form of poetry and prose, acquired journalistic know-how and design skills with the support of the Street Sense staff, and took a writing course. But above all, he sees himself as an advocate for the homeless. And Street Sense helps him: "There is so much money and political initiatives against homelessness, but nobody looks us in the face. They just walk past us. Sure, I may be homeless, but I have a lot to offer."
For Patrick, Emma, Reginald and their 28,000 sales colleagues worldwide, it is now up to the readership to change the lives of their salespeople. Stop, talk to your salesman; buy an issue and become part of the most important social movement in the world!
Text: Callum McSorley, translation: Maren Johnston
Photo: © INSP
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