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Glasgow City welcomes the INSP conference

By Callum McSorley

Among the grand surrounds of Glasgow’s City Chambers, the INSP’s global gathering was officially welcomed by the City Council on Tuesday evening

Long proud of INSP’s link to the city, Glasgow’s Lord
Provost is a passionate supporter of INSP and the street paper movement.
With Scotland’s biggest city still buzzing from the
successful Commonwealth Games last month, his representative, Baillie Jonathan
Findlay said he was proud to again welcome international visitors to the city.
“INSP was founded here in 1994 to enable those involved in
publishing and distributing street papers to come to together and support each
other and forge an ambitious and uncertain experiment,” he said.
“Now 20 years and 120 street papers later, it is an
organised and unified movement of social entrepreneurs who have managed to show
the world that there are more innovative ways to tackle homelessness and
poverty.”
Expressing his gratitude to the City of Glasgow, recently appointed CEO
of The Big Issue UK, Jim Mullan modestly looked forward to the coming week.
“I suspect you guys have lots of things to teach me about
what I should be doing and what I should be considering in my current role,” he
said. “To see you all here and to have the opportunity to hear about the great
work being done all over the world is truly a privilege.”
Delegates were already excited to get to work discussing
the place of street papers in the digital age, a central theme of this year’s
conference.
Thomas Anthun Neilsen of Megafon [Norway, pictured] said: “It’s a
changing world, we’re going from print media to digital media and that
transaction is very important. We can take print media and turn it into digital
media but we’re not going to lose the fact that we’re actually working with and
for homeless people.
“So how can we make street papers into the digital world
but still keeping the core mission which is helping homeless people?”
Thomas, a veteran and self-described “old guy” of INSP
conferences, is keen to share his paper’s own ideas of how best to do this with
an app on the way that lets readers locate their nearest vendor and buy an
online version of the magazine.
“A lot of these people are my friends and meeting them,
and getting to know them and learn from their experience, that’s really
important. We do have plans and we’re going to share them with friends,” he
said.
“The annual conference for me is a highlight of the INSP
year,” agreed Trudy Vlok of The Big Issue South Africa. “It
is an amazing opportunity to get together with colleagues who operate in a
similar space, very often in different political and social climates, and talk
through the challenges, to look at solutions and to, honestly, just really show
support of the work we’re doing.”
INSP Chair Serge Lareault, closed the reception by looking
back at INSP’s history as it celebrates its 20th anniversary, now with 123
street papers in 41 countries around the world, but warned that there is still
much to be done.
“I started 20 years ago in Montreal and we still haven’t
solved the problem,” he said. “We have more and more homeless people in our
countries and the gap between the rich and the poor is higher than ever. But we
are part of the solution. 
“I hope this week you will have fun but will also
create a new vision to change the world.”

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