Celebrating ten years of Norwegian street paper Sorgenfri – with the vendors

By Trond Ola Tilseth, Sorgenfri

As Sorgenfri celebrates ten years providing opportunity to people facing homelessness in the Norwegian city of Trondheim, we meet four of their longest-serving vendors. They say that local people need to be reminded what the street paper is all about.

Tom Vikdahl. Photo by: Erlend Paxal

Tom Vikdahl (35)

Started selling Sorgenfri in 2010 when the magazine was based in premises in Ravelsveita.

“The sales were absolutely tremendous at the time I started. Sorgenfri was really a hot topic and the buyers lined up waiting to buy magazines from us. I could sell around hundred magazines in a day. But it’s not like that anymore. Yesterday I stood from 9.45am to 4.15pm at City Syd [one of the largest shopping centres in Norway] and sold five magazines all together. I think people have forgotten what Sorgenfri is. Some are also grumpy because we increased the price from 50 to 100 kroner.”

Gweir Augen. Photo by: Erlend Paxal

Gweir Augen (48)

Started selling Sorgenfri in 2007 when issues of the magazine were sold from a bus in a city square.

“There was a lot of fuss when Sorgenfri was new. We sold around 20,000 issues of the first number. It was for sale for two months and cost 40 kroner. Sorgenfri has meant a lot to us addicts. Where before, we had to fund our drug use by committing crime, we could now earn an honest living. Lately, sales have been down. Yesterday I sold only three magazines before noon. I think people need to remember what Sorgenfri really is.”

Helene Disington. Photo by: Erlend Paxal

Helene Disington (60)

Started selling Sorgenfri in 2009 when the magazine had premises on a street called Tordenskjoldsgata.

“[When I started selling the paper] the distribution room was so small that we had to queue outside to buy magazines. It was first come, first served when it came to choosing a sales pitch at the time. I remember there were a few addicts who had not received their fix yet, so there could be some violent episodes. We were not allowed to use the toilet after some syringes was found there. People have settled down considerably since then. The lives of people have become more stable and safe. I think Sorgenfri is due a lot of credit for that. At first, we had amazing sales figures. I could sell 20 or 30 magazines in four hours. It has changed dramatically. On Friday afternoon, I only sold eight magazines and then I was too tired to keep going. The strange thing is that buyers still celebrate the content of the magazine.”

Tor Ødegård. Photo by: Erlend Paxal

Tor Ødegård (66)

Started selling Sorgenfri in 2007.

“I do not think so much about sales figures. I get to know many people through this job, people I can have a chat with when I meet them. In the past, I walked around the city a lot just to pass the time, but in the last ten years I have had a regular routine that gets me up and out in the morning. Meeting people is the most important thing for me.”