These stories are stories about the poor and vulnerable in our society; stories of social injustice and inequality, in Australia and overseas. This particular story is about the International Network Of Street Publications (INSP).
Some of the stories to come are taken from INSP publications around the world. Others are inspired by issues in the media. Still others are personal experiences, some of other people, and some of myself.
Just a little about the INSP. It is a network of street papers, about 80 of them, in about 30 countries. The publications are sold by homeless and marginalised people (called vendors) on street corners and strategic locations, usually in the larger cities, but more increasingly in other rural areas. The vendors buy the magazine for usually half the retail value, and then get to keep the profit from the magazine after they sell it.
So, if they buy the magazine for $2, and sell it for $4, then they make $2 on each magazine they sell. Many people also give tips to the vendors, as recognition for the fact they are doing something to help themselves out of difficult situations.
The most famous of the INSP magazines is The Big Issue, started in the early 1990s by Anita Roddick, CEO of The Body Shop, in London. Today the idea has spread right throughout the world, with INSP publications selling millions of copies each week, and giving new hope to those that had lost hope.
So if you see a vendor selling one of these magazines somewhere in the world, don’t just walk by. He’s not begging, he’s working. He’s not asking for a hand out, he’s asking for a hand up.