Liceulice’s Anica Klepo on shielding during the pandemic, speaking up for the rights of disabled people, and finally being able to sell the street paper again

Anica was starting to hit her stride as a Liceulice vendor when the pandemic hit. Then came fourteen and a half months in isolation: Anica lives in a retirement home, as she needs supported accommodation, and had to isolate to protect the other residents. Now that she can get out into the world again, Anica hopes to leave the retirement home for her own living space. She is also hopeful that other people with disabilities will raise their voices along with hers in a world that often ignores them.

A snapshot of street papers in Latin America

The regional work of INSP has increased dramatically since the first lockdown as solidarity and connection have become more important than ever. That has overwhelmingly been the case in Latin America, as INSP’s tight knit group of publications have battled through adversity to continue their work. This is an overview of the region’s street papers.

Big Issue Taiwan’s Mei-yu Lan: “I won’t stop selling the street paper as long as my customers need me”

Mei-yu Lan sells The Big Issue Taiwan from her pitch at the IKEA Taipei City Shop Arena. She has been working as a vendor since the launch of the magazine 13 years ago and is part of the community where she works. She is a straightforward woman who believes in treating people right; it’s led to her building a large customer base. It’s these loyal customers who keep her motivated.

Home is where the art is: How Düsseldorf street paper fiftyfifty turns paintings, prints and photographs into permanent shelter

A unique Housing First effort in Düsseldorf combines art, newspapers and advocacy to pair the unhoused with apartments. The brainchild of the city’s street paper fiftyfifty, revenues from sales of works by famous artists are used to buy apartments for those who need them most.

Surprise reader: “Social problems don’t get solved by staying silent about them”

Regular street paper readers will recognise the long running technique of profiling a street paper vendor. Swiss magazine Surprise has chosen to reverse the perspective. Urs Habegger (65), who works as a Surprise vendor in Rapperswil, provides a portrait of one of his regular customers. Katharina Hiller is a pastor; here, she reflects on her path towards the religious life and on the importance of giving voice to social issues.

Raising awareness about camps, sweeps and displacement in the United States

In recent months, cities and states across the United States have dramatically increased their efforts to sweep and displace homeless encampments and to criminalize people on the streets. A series of posters as part of the nation-wide campaign ‘Housekeys Not Sweeps’, led by the Western Regional Advocacy Project, is raising awareness and combating criminalization efforts and anti-homeless legislation occurring across the country.

For people living in poverty, getting an abortion was already hard. It’s about to get harder

As the US repeals Roe v. Wade and rolls back abortion rights, Washington DC street paper Street Sense covers what effect this will have on those on the margins, highlighting the already significant barriers that poor people have to obtaining healthcare, especially those seeking an abortion.

Housing for the People: “Tennessee’s anti-homelessness law feels like someone ripping our collective hearts out”

Tennessee is Vicky Batcher’s home, and it is a place she is witnessing turn against people who don’t have shelter and must make their home on the street, a position she knows all too well from past experience. In the latest in INSP’s Housing for the People column, she writes about the jarring experience of seeing the place you live criminalize homeless people – people Vicky has a kinship with – as Tennessee will do with the passing of a new law.

Housing for the People: “I came back to life in a time of trouble”

Gary Barker, who sells Portland street paper Street Roots, writes for the latest in INSP’s Housing for the People – a column that allows those with lived experience of poverty, homelessness and insecure housing tell their story – writes about being “in a hell of my own doing”, but how with the pandemic making the world seem like world was falling apart, circumstances in Gary’s life suddenly made things start to come together. He writes about his work as an ambassador for Street Roots and leading on its MoJo scheme to get vendors into journalism, and how being in housing allows him to “find a way to get problems off my mind”.

“I’d give everybody a pay rise and halve the electric bills”: Big Issue vendors on what they’d do if they were Queen for the day

What if the Queen had the vision of a Big Issue vendor? The street paper asked its team, who sell the magazine across the country, what they’d do if they were Queen for a day as the UK’s reigning monarch celebrates her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne. The insights are intriguing.

Northern Italian street paper zebra. on the journey and bureaucracy faced by refugees, and how street papers can help them through it

The street paper zebra. is located in South Tyrol, a region in northern Italy close to the border with Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The project is uniquely placed, not only because it is published in two languages – German and Italian – but also because its cohort of vendors is made up people from ten different countries and four continents, many of whom have ended up in the region having fled from a situation of poverty, war or persecution. Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June, zebra.’s social work team – Alessio Giordano, Patrizia Insam, Francesca Parisi and Niklas Klinge – explain how the organisation has found itself in the centre of the refugee crisis and how the street paper’s assistance can be life changing for the people who pass through it.

As the refugee crisis worsens, street papers offer a path to stability and a hopeful future

Street papers have found themselves increasingly to be at the centre of the refugee crisis. Higher numbers of people selling street papers across different parts of the world have fled from their home countries due to poverty, persecution and conflict. Not only do street papers have the ability to platform their voices and stories, but they also offer a stable income when a place in the mainstream job market may seem out of reach. Their support beyond simply selling the magazine – assisting in applying for documentation and permits, looking for a new place to live, and language classes – means a pathway to integration into what is sometimes a new and unfamiliar society. Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June, INSP and its member street papers are helping some refugees – who now work selling street papers – to tell their story.

Vibrant flowers bloom: Writing about climate change for Megaphone’s Voices of the Street literary anthology

Megaphone storytellers and vendors of all street papers, including the writers featured in the pages of this Vancouver and Victoria street paper’s Voices of the Street literary anthology, regularly face a host of challenges, all linked to the inequities that come from living in poverty. When Megaphone hosted a series of writing workshops earlier this year, it became clear what was of great importance to participants: our environmentally distressed planet. As a result, the pages of the new edition of Voices of the Street (Stealing Looks at the Sun: Writing About Climate Change in 2022), which is on sale now, are packed full of prose driven by the growing impacts of climate change.

Big Issue Taiwan vendor Yu-fu Hsieh: “I’ll continue supporting the street paper, and I hope that we will spend another decade together”

Yu-fu Hsieh is a veteran Big Issue Taiwan vendor who started selling the magazine in April 2010, after he retired from his sales rep job, from his pitch at Exit 2 of Gonguan metro station in central Taipei. He has never moved pitch since then. Hsieh delights in his work, crediting it with bringing enjoyment and happiness to his retirement, and he looks forward to many more years of working with The Big Issue Taiwan.

How a rise in publishing costs is affecting street papers

Several street papers in the INSP network have noticed a rise in printing and publishing costs affecting their organisations. INSP spoke to Maja Ravanska, project manager and managing editor of North Macedonian street paper Lice v Lice, about the cost and environmental implications of having a print product in the modern day and how that affects the concept of a street paper.

Big Issue vendor Oprea Ruducan: “Each person who buys the magazine from me helps me get everything I need”

It’s all happening for Big Issue vendor Oprea, 48. Originally from Romania, he has just moved to a new selling point – at Bristol’s Temple Meads train station as part of a partnership with Network Rail – where he is perfecting his sales technique, and he has a new card reader to offer digital payments. He is studying a business course at university too.

Ulične Svjetiljke vendor Ljilja Plackovic has empathy for people in the position she was once in

Ljilja Plackovic sells Ulične Svjetiljke in the Croatian city of Zagreb. She has experienced loss and hurt unlike many people. And yet, even with meagre means, she gives back to the people she sees on the streets of the city, reminding her of how things changed around for her.

Bodo vendors Ralf and Mario: “Life without dogs? Impossible!”

Perceptions of people on the streets with pets are often uncaring and narrow-minded. Bodo vendors Ralf and Mario, who sell the street paper in the German city of Bochum, are prime examples of the mental health and social benefits of having a pet on the streets can be. Their dogs – Maja, Tyson and Cassey – are their pride and joys.

Faktum vendor Anita’s reflections on life

Anita Rinkovec’s life has been a journey through many forms of darkness. She is a survivor of sexual and psychological abuse, addiction and numerous suicide attempts and has outlived three of her four children. Now, aged 79, she has found meaning and enjoyment in life and thrives on her work as a Faktum vendor. Here, she talks about moving through the darkness and about the light she has discovered in the twilight of her life.

Liceulice vendor Mirjana Vasic: “Through the street paper, I meet real friends”

Serbian street paper Liceulice’s vendor Mirjana Vasić escaped from Kosovo twenty years ago and came to the northern Serbian city Novi Sad. It wasn’t easy for her to get used to a different environment and way of life but, thanks to the magazine, she made friends again and got the support she needed.

Apropos vendor Friday Akpan: “I’m living life day by day”

“I have a job, I have food, I have an apartment, I have my passport.” This is Friday Akpan’s response when asked how he’s doing. Friday, a migrant from Nigeria, arrived in Austria in late 2014 and has worked hard to build a life in Austria. He is thrilled to call Salzburg home. Now, the 33-year-old Apropos vendor, who always has a friendly smile on his face, is working hard to secure the right to remain for his youngest son.

Homelessness is not a crime: Nashville street paper vendors on Tennessee anti-homelessness bill

Paul A. and Vicky B., who both sell the street paper The Contributor in Nashville, write about the “great injustice” that is the recent Tennessee Senate Bill 1610, which makes rough sleeping and homelessness camps on public land a criminal act. The bill has since passed into law without the signature of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.

Housing for the People: “Until I can make my dream happen…”

Brian Augustine, who sells Colorado street paper the Denver VOICE, writes for the latest in INSP’s Housing for the People series about how happenstance, and events outside his control, led to him losing the place he called home. Now, he counts the street paper as his home, and the people who come by his place of work as his family.

Outgoing INSP CEO Maree Aldam reflects on her time growing up alongside street papers

The International Network of Street Papers is set to undergo a leadership change as Maree Aldam – at the organisation for 14 years and its CEO for eight – moves on to a new role. Leaving the network as a veteran of the street paper movement, she writes about how she first crossed paths with the street paper mission and the growth and resilience she has witnessed since.

From the arepa to the taco: a refugee’s journey

Alejandro Peña left his beloved home country of Venezuela with a heavy heart. Living in a country mired in crisis was a nightmare; it was impossible to have hopes and dreams for the future. Faced with uncertainty about what the future would hold, Peña felt his only option was to flee and seek refuge elsewhere. This is his story.

The International Network of Street Papers appoints new CEO Mike Findlay

INSP has appointed Mike Findlay as its new CEO. He is a third sector leader, with 20 years of experience working in senior communications roles in both London and Scotland, as well as a trained journalist and writer on social justice and inequalities who has been published in a number of national news outlets.

Housing for the People: How an affordable apartment changed my life

For Vicky Batcher, a regular face with and in Nashville street paper The Contributor, simply liking a Facebook page set her on a road toward a roof of her own over her head. For the latest in INSP’s ‘Housing for the People’ column, she writes about the rush of emotions that experiencing safety and security for the first time in years brought her.

Housing for the People: “We have to go beyond people just attaining housing”

For the latest instalment of INSP’s ‘Housing for the People’ column, Denver VOICE contributor Larmarques ‘Misha’ Smith writes about their journey from temporary to stable housing, their experience of shelters throughout the pandemic, and how ensuring housing is a right enjoyed by all should be done intersectionally with multiple goals in mind.