This award recognises the top contribution to a street paper by current or former street paper vendors. It can be a written piece, photography or art, as long as it has been published in the street paper. You can see the Top 10 nominees here, which we announced in April.
Our shortlisting panel have narrowed down the Nominees to give us Finalists, who now go forward to the main judging panel to select the winner.
Winners are revealed during the INSP Awards Ceremony held as part of the Global Street Paper Summit in Hannover, Germany, on Wednesday 19 June.
1. Alberta Street News, Canada
The Secret Hours
By Angelique Branston
Alberta Street News said: Angelique Branston has been selling Alberta Street News since 2008 at the local farmers’ market. As a single parent, she needed to top up her income from Supports for Independence, then from a disability pension. Angelique is a First Nations woman who has been directly affected by the residential school legacy. Her grandmother was a student in one of the schools from age five to age 16. She became an alcoholic, and her son, Angelique’s father, was part of the welfare sweep when Indigenous children from the reserves were placed in Caucasian foster homes. He grew up with abuse and discrimination and became very abusive to his own children in every way – physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually. Angelique married a man at 18 who turned out to be much like her father. She divorced him. She suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from the violence she was exposed to, as well as severe depression, arthritis and Bell’s palsy. As part of her journey of healing, Angelique contributes stories and poetry to Alberta Street News. She also enjoys singing at a local inner-city mission.
2. Big Issue North, UK
‘When I get to the Pearly Gates, I want a pitch outside’
Big Issue North said: This interview took place at the Marie Curie Hospice in Liverpool in October 2017. Andy asked that is was published after his death. He passed away in March  and his funeral was held in Liverpool [in April 2018, the week this article was published].
3. L’Itinéraire, Canada
Our vendors interview Justin Trudeau
By Mostapha Lotfi, Jean-Claude Nault and Isabelle Raymond
L’Itinéraire said: Vendor writing in L’Itinéraire led to an historic event: an exclusive interview with three of our vendors and the Prime Minister of Canada. The article is an illustration of the hard work they accomplished, from the research to the interview itself, considering that Mostapha Lotfi, Isabelle Raymond and Jean-Claude Nault – who became vendors in 2015 – have only been writing for the last three years. During the interview, the vendors’ composure and professionalism were impressive. They had been up since 4am to take the first train out to Ottawa. All were well-prepared. They had studied the topics they chose to question the PM about. Although Justin Trudeau was affable and put everyone at ease, there was no complacency on either side. The vendors behaved and worked like true journalists, respecting the codes and procedures of the trade. They didn’t spare the Prime Minister and asked some difficult questions. They were thorough in their writing and were involved in the editing process, making this an extremely rich learning experience for them. The feature was widely publicised, and the vendors gave interviews to the Montréal media like true professionals.
4. Mi Valedor, Mexico
The Awkward Neighbour
By Isaías Pérez
Mi Valedor said: Isaías Pérez came to us in 2018. Working with Mi Valedor has helped him overcome alcoholism and given him self-confidence; previously, he worked in sales but he needed alcohol to socialise. Now, he is saving up and dreams of opening his own taco stand. Isaías became more and more tenacious in our writing and photography workshops, and has already had photos published in past issues. However, this is the first written piece that he has had published. The story writing workshop was presented by César Tejeda, who said: “It is supposed to be me who provides some kind of direction in the story writing workshops, but often, it is the vendors who give me a direction for the class. I listened to their stories, their experiences, their instinct to talk about life through their characters.” Isaías’ story is called “Un Vecino Incómodo” or “The Awkward Neighbour”. It’s a fantasy tale where the characters are animals and the moral of the story is that we should build communities and learn to share. It includes a lot of metaphorical language.
5. The Big Issue Australia, Australia
The Happiness Project
By Various The Big Issue Australia Vendors
The Big Issue Australia said: Our vendors are the heart of The Big Issue Australia. We celebrate their lives and stories in every edition. But to celebrate #VendorWeek, we handed over the edition to our vendor VIPs. In a very special photo essay, 11 vendors from around the country took to the streets with disposable cameras to document the things, people and places that make them happiest. We called it “The Happiness Project”. It was months in the making. We sent out cameras to vendors in early November, along with an image brief: take photos of your happy place, whatever that may be. They experimented with photo framing and shooting on film. The results published in late January were detailed, moving and nuanced, and challenged the notions of what a happy place can look like. It also challenged our vendors in a positive way. “It was good because it made me actually think about what made me happy,” says Melbourne vendor Daryl, who captured the people and streets who had become home to him. “The fact is no matter how hard life is, your happy place is whatever you make of it, and that’s what I wanted to show,” says Rachel from Sydney.