Lee: ourvendors

The power of love: A Big Issue Australia vendor wedding

This Big Issue love story begins at a wheelchair touch football game and continues on through joy, devastation and more love – an abundance of it. The Big Issue Australia’s editor Amy Hetherington speaks to newlywed vendors Kelly and Greg.

Our vendors: Castrenze Maggiore (Scarp de’ tenis, Milan, Italy)

Castrenze has been hit hard by Italy’s financial crisis, more than once in his life. But now settled in a home as a Scarp vendor, things are looking up.

BISS: The documentary

Making a documentary film is an intricate and lengthy process. Here, Hans-Albrecht Lusznat describes his role as cameraman during the production of BISS’s documentary about the lives of four of its vendors. Filmed over a period of three years in Munich, Germany, the film follows four vendors and documents the trials and triumphs that they experience while working for BISS.

Our vendors: Gail Marcotte (Street Roots, Portland, USA)

Street Roots vendor Gail talks about her upbringing in New York, moving to Portland with her daughter and using selling the street paper to combat social isolation.

Our vendors: Mélanie Noél (L’Itinéraire, Montreal, Quebec)

37-year-old Mélanie Noël sells L’Itinéraire from her pitch at the Verdun metro station in Montreal, Quebec. Here, she looks back on a childhood spent moving from home to home and her troubled relationship with her sister, while affirming how positive her time as a L’Itinéraire vendor has been. She loves her work and has found strength through relationships forged with friends and mentors.

Our vendors: Randolph (The Contributor, Nashville, USA)

Randolph B. has found security through his work selling The Contributor. He knows that he will always be able to sell the magazine, regardless of his work situation, and that he has the support of customers with whom he was forged lasting friendships. Despite having recently taken on paid work with Rock City Mechanical, Randolph still sells The Contributor in the evenings and at the weekend. Here, he speaks of his love for his customers and for his adopted hometown, Nashville.

Vendor voices: Have you felt profiled by police?

This week, the 2018 INSP Global Street Paper Summit has been held in Glasgow, giving street paper staff from countries throughout the network the opportunity to discuss the issues affecting their vendors in our modern world. According to recent news reports in the US state of Portland, 52 per cent of all arrests last year in the Portland area were made against people on the streets, and 86 per cent of those were for non-violent violations. The city’s street paper, Street Roots, surveyed its vendor about their first-hand experience with law enforcement.

Our vendors: Daniel (The Big Issue, Glasgow, UK)

With the INSP Global Street Paper Summit in Glasgow this week, it’s a great opportunity to hear from one of the city’s vendors. Daniel is a familiar face in the west end of Glasgow, and you might even recognise him from past stories featured in the INSP website and News Service. He even went viral not that long ago. Here, he tells us how he came to be a Big Issue vendor, getting back into education and his love of graphic novels.

Our vendors: Petra (Hinzt&Kunzt, Hamburg, Germany)

Petra, 55, sells Hinz&Kunzt in front of the Edeka supermarket in the Winterhude quarter of Hamburg, often in the company of her dog, Luna. Here, Petra talks about the friendly relationships that she has with many of her customers and talks about what life has been like since she became homeless three years ago. One day, she hopes to have a place of her own that she can call home.

Our vendors: Erasmo Navarrete (Mi Valedor, Mexico City, Mexico)

Erasmo Navarrete has found hope and direction since becoming a Mi Valedor vendor. Despite his earlier struggles with alcoholism, he never lost his enthusiasm for work or his honest approach to life. Here, he looks back on his life and talks about the positive changes that have taken place since he became a Mi Valdor vendor, thanks to the support that he has received from others.

Our vendors: Rhonda (The Curbside Chronicle, Oklahoma City, USA)

Rhonda, a vendor for Oklahoma City street paper The Curbside Chronicle, speaks candidly here about her childhood, upbringing, experiences of abuse, marriage and fighting her way back to housing.

Our vendors: Chao-you Chen (The Big Issue Taiwan, Taipei, Taiwan)

Chen has been selling The Big Issue Taiwan at Xihu Station since the start of this year. Business is up and down, but he is determined to succeed: he chose his pitch at Xihu Station after realising there weren’t any vendors already working there and he has made the spot his own. Here, he looks back on his life and expresses his gratitude to those who have helped him through difficult times.

“I already have a real job”

Real Change vendor Jen Tibbits rebuts one of the most common criticisms of street paper sellers across our network: “Why don’t you get a real job?”

Our vendors: Andrea, Selene and Vicky (Hecho en Bs As, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Andrea, Selene and Vicky are all Hecho en Bs As vendors and each one has her own story to tell. All three have something in common: their involvement with HBA has been a turning point in their lives. Andrea would not change HBA for anything and now wants to finish high school; Selene is a successful vendor who dreams of traveling and being a writer; and Vicky believes that there is more to selling HBA than making sales and finds strength in her faith.

Our vendors: Lonnie Baker (Groundcover News, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)

Lonnie Baker is a Groundcover News vendor in Ann Arbor who is feeling positive about the future. Here, he talks about his journey from homelessness to self-sufficiency and the lessons that he has learned along the way.

Big Issue North vendor Andy: “When I get to the Pearly Gates, I want a pitch outside”

Andy used to sell Big Issue North in Liverpool. This interview took place at the Marie Curie Hospice in the city in October 2017. Andy asked that it was published after his death. He passed away in March and his funeral was held in Liverpool.

Spending a day with a Real Change vendor

Glenn Walker has been all over the place, both in his life and as a Real Change vendor. He’s lived in Denver, New York and Chicago, but he’s lived in Seattle for years. As a Real Change vendor, he gets around, too: Issaquah, Bellevue and Bainbridge Island are all on his regular route. Hanna Brooks Olsen spent a day shadowing Glenn to find out about what it’s like to be a Real Change vendor.

Our vendors: John Williams (The Big Issue, Weston-super-Mare, UK)

John is a Big Issue vendor based in Weston-super-Mare who has been a magazine vendor for a few years. Here, he talks about his love for his home of over a decade, the town of Weston-super-Mare, and discusses what life is like for him as a Big Issue vendor.

Our vendors: Ntombovuyo Cekiso (The Big Issue, Cape Town, South Africa)

Ntombovuyo Cekiso, 29, sells The Big Issue at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. After moving to Cape Town over ten years ago, Ntombovuyo struggled to find secure employment. However, since becoming a Big Issue vendor, she has found both financial security and job satisfaction, and her life has changed for the better.

Megaphone vendor Suzanne on the importance of National Aboriginal Day

“I’m your sister and I walk with you,” says Suzanne Kilroy, as she discusses the importance of National Aboriginal Day, which is today. Here, she talks about the significance of the celebration, and the feelings of kinship with others and pride in her heritage that the day inspires in her.

Our vendors: Antoine Desrochers (L’Itinéraire, Montréal, Québec)

Working as a L’Itinéraire vendor has put a smile back on Antoine Dereochers’s face. Here, he looks back on his past and reflects on his experiences of living without a permanent address. He also talks about his experiences as a vendor and thanks his customers for their support and encouragement.

Our vendors: Peter Thompson (Megaphone, Vancouver, Canada)

In a piece written for the fall edition of Megaphone’s Community Journalism 101 workshop, Peter Thompson discusses his love of food. In particular, he writes about bannock – his personal favourite – and shares an anecdote about how, during his childhood, he learned how to smoke fish.

Our vendors: Tareq Islami (Surprise, Basel, Switzerland)

What would you do if you had lived in a country for over a decade and were then given the order to leave? For ¬Tareq Islami, this situation became a reality in late 2018 when he received a removal order from the Swiss authorities. Here, Tareq talks about the life he has built in Switzerland, and how the uncertainty of living with the threat of deportation has been lessened by the support that they have received from friends and colleagues in Basel.

Our vendors: Norma Gastelum (Real Change, Seattle, USA)

Norma has been living in Seattle since 2010 and was introduced to Real Change by her current partner in late 2016. Here, she looks back on her life before moving to Seattle, praises the freedom that she has found by being a vendor and celebrates the resilience that has served her well since childhood.

Our vendors: Marcello (Scarp de’ tenis, Milan, Italy)

“Thanks to Scarp de’ tenis, I am able to smile today,” says Marcello, who sells the magazine in Milan. Here, he talks about this past, the circumstances that led to him becoming homeless and his hope that, in the future, he will be able to repay the kindness that he received while homeless by helping others in need.

Our vendors: Holger (Hinz&Kunzt, Hamburg, Germany)

Holger (53) sells Hinz&Kunzt at the Isemarket in Hamburg Eppendorf. Here, he looks back on his earlier life, which was turned upside down in the 1980s when he worked at a shop selling stolen goods and was blackmailed by his physically abusive boss. The support of friends on the street led him to Hinz&Kunst 20 years ago; now, his life is full of hope – and love.

Our vendors: V.W. (Streetwise, Chicago, USA)

V.W. found StreetWise after attending a homeless luncheon in 2010, during which she learned about the magazine and met other vendors. She has now been selling StreetWise for nearly three years. Here, she talks about her life as a vendor and about the sense of hope that she has regained thanks to her work.

“Who knows anything about how women on the streets suffer? They’re mostly invisible, just like I was”

Cologne-born Linda, a Draussenseiter vendor, was homeless for eleven years. Now, she runs her own self-help group for women on the streets and is passionately committed to ensuring that homeless women are properly supported. Here, she looks back on her life and discusses the positive legacy of her homelessness: those years endowed her with a sense of purpose that she has channelled into helping others.