Fresh ideas kick off 2014’s INSP conference

By Callum McSorley

Old hands from The Big Issue UK, The Big Issue Australia and Canada’s L’Itinéraire joined the INSP’s 18th conference early on Tuesday to share their wisdom with international colleagues, some of whom were joining the gathering for the very first time.

The event included workshops on editorial content, vendor support and fundraising and provided a lively start ahead of the official opening of the conference on Wednesday.

Lana Shaw, of the US street paper Speak Up [pictured], is this year attending her first INSP conference. “I love it, there’s no other place like it. Where else are you going to be surrounded by people from all over the world that are doing what you’re doing? It’s incredible,” she said.

Though there was a lot to take in from the training, Lana said her main lesson was simple – you can have fun with the magazine.

“All the teachers were wonderful but my favourite was the first session taught by Alan [Attwood – The Big Issue Australia]. One of the things he talked about was how we can have fun with our editorial content and there’s a freedom there, we don’t have to abide by all these rules that we put on ourselves, so that was really good for me.”

Maryana Sokha of Prosto Neba, based in the Ukraine, was particularly impressed by some of the unique fundraising ideas that are popping up all over the world.

“I got a lot of new information about interesting ways of fundraising – some new tricks,” she said.

Also leaving the training sessions with a host of fresh ideas to take home was Rosi Rico of Brazilian street paper OCAS.

She was particularly taken with the Vendor for a Day project from Canada, in which business leaders and celebrities sell street papers for a day to raise money and awareness.

“I think that’s a good idea,” she said. “I don’t know if we can manage to do it but we can discuss it.”

The conference is a breeding ground for new ideas, she added. “You can learn something different, something new, you can talk with a lot of people and see what they are doing and what you can manage to do in your own country. It’s all about the experience, talking to people and exchanging ideas and suggestions.”