‘International Street Paper Vendor Week’ celebrates 14,000 inspiring vendors

Next week, a unique global event will be co-ordinated from a small office in Glasgow. The first annual ‘International Street Paper Vendor Week’ will celebrate the 14,000 homeless people around the world who are working to lift themselves out of poverty by selling street papers. 

There are 14,000 street paper vendors in 600 cities worldwide.

International Street Paper Vendor Week (4th – 10th February) is a global programme of events and activities, that will celebrate street paper vendors and challenge perceptions of poverty and homelessness. Vendor Week is organised by INSP (the International Network of Street Papers) – a Glasgow-based charity that supports The Big Issue magazine and over 100 other similar projects in 40 countries worldwide.

For many people who are homeless or living poverty, selling a street paper like The Big Issue can offer a financial lifeline and act as a stepping stone to support, housing and training. More than 28,000 vendors each year (14,000 at any one time) work to lift themselves out of poverty, by selling their local street paper in more than 600 towns and cities around the world.

Whether they are on the streets of Glasgow, Cape Town, Melbourne or Milan, every vendor is part of a global network working together to fight poverty and help people help themselves. The scale of the INSP network is a testament to the strength and effectiveness of the street paper model, which has now spread across 40 countries on six continents and earns vendors over $40 million per year.

From its base in Scotland, INSP helps its member street papers with start-up and editorial support, staff and vendor training, funding, networking and campaigns to raise awareness of their work. Worldwide, INSP’s street papers have already helped more than 250,000 homeless people change their lives.

Vendor parties
INSP’s vendor week co-ordinator Maree Aldam said: “Our first-ever Vendor Week promises to be a very exciting one. Next week, street papers around the world will celebrate their hard working vendors and raise awareness of homelessness in their cities and countries using the theme ‘INSPiring people’.

“Events range from vendor parties and open days to Twitter competitions and photography exhibitions. Street papers are running public campaigns, special editions, editorial features, and making movies – all to raise awareness of the amazing stories and contributions of their vendors, who work hard each day, come hail, rain or shine.”

“Street paper readers around the world are encouraged to get involved, through tweeting about their local vendor, using the hashtag #INSPiringPeople and of course buy a copy -or two!- of their street paper.”

MSP selling
As well as supporting the international programme, INSP will also hold a series of Scottish events. On Monday, Humza Yousaf MSP – Scotland’s Minister for External Affairs and International Development – will accompany a Big Issue vendor on his pitch in Glasgow, to find out what it’s really like selling a street paper. High profile ‘guest vendors’ will also help selling street papers in other countries, including Australia.

INSP supports The Big Issue in Scotland to hold special parties for their vendors at their distribution offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Perth and Dundee.

A series of week-long digital exhibitions will be held in venues across Glasgow (City Chambers, Concert Hall, City Halls, Kelvingrove Museum, Tramway Theatre and the Mitchell Library). INSP’s Patron, The Lord Provost of Glasgow, will also host a special reception and photography exhibition at the City Chambers, for invited guests.

INSP’s Executive Director Lisa Maclean said: “This event
gives us an opportunity to celebrate our vendors with supporters in Scotland
and around the world. We are very grateful to our Vendor Week sponsors for
helping to make this happen. They are fantastic ambassadors for the street
paper model.”

This year’s event is made possible through the support of a range of sponsors and supporters, including: Big Lottery – Awards for All (Scotland); Glasgow Life; Glasgow City Council; Strathclyde University Business School; Unity Trust Bank; 999 Design; Glasgow’s Regeneration Agency; Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank Foundation; The Merchant’s House of Glasgow. Find out more here.