Alex Salmond and Jon Snow support street papers in sell-out event

Photo: Simon Murphy

Alex Salmond tonight praised the street paper model for helping to change the lives of homeless people. The First Minister made his comments at an event in aid of the International Network of Street Papers, where he was interviewed by INSP ambassador Jon Snow.

In front of a 600-strong crowd at the University of Strathclyde’s Barony Hall, Salmond went beyond his political agenda. He spoke out about the potential for social enterprises like street papers to bring about change.

In an interview with INSP prior to the live Q&A he admitted: “I prefer the content of The Big Issue to pretty much every other paper in Scotland.”

In his usual candid style, Snow also asked the First Minister why he, as an Englishman who feels more British than English, should support independence. Salmond was given some time to push for his ‘Yes campaign’, but leaving politics aside, Snow then suggested to his interview candidate that they had one thing in common: they had both been boy choristers. The Channel 4 news presenter immediately burst into song, but it could not tempt Salmond to join in.

Photo: Simon Murphy

But the most important question of the night perhaps came from street paper vendor Joan. She explained how The Big Issue has helped her when other organisations failed and asked how an independent Scotland would look after its citizens who fall upon hard times. She didn’t take the answer that policy had been put in place at face value and made sure the First Minister understood that services can sometimes be too slow and bureaucratic, and that street papers are often a life line when things go wrong.

The event was organised in partnership with The Herald newspaper as part of their involvement with the Fraser of Allander Lecture Series. A full-length video recording is available from tomorrow on the Herald website.

The second part of the conversation series –with former UK Chancellor ‘Better Together’ leader Alistair Darling and Herald journalist Alan Taylor – will take place on Thursday 6th December. Tickets can be bought from the University of Strathclyde’s online shop.

Tickets sales proceeds from both events go towards INSP’s work alleviating poverty and supporting street papers in Scotland and around the world.

INSP’s Executive Director Lisa Maclean said: “With the 2014 referendum coming closer, information provision is of crucial importance. As a Scottish-based international charity, we are proud to contribute to the debate through our two-part conversation series with Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling.”

“The First Minister’s belief in social enterprise for sustainable development stems us hopeful and his encouraging words about the street paper model are recognition for all our 120 street papers and their homeless vendors worldwide.”

“Our ambassador Jon Snow greatly contributed to the success of tonight’s first event and we are grateful for his on-going support to the street paper movement.”

“We’d like to thank our partners and sponsors, The Herald, the University of Strathclyde and Strathclyde Business School, Tinopolis, 999 Design and CCB, for their support and look forward to our second event in two weeks’ time.”