Our vendors: Radomir (Surprise, Basel, Switzerland)

Radomir, 28, sells Surprise at Basel train station in Switzerland. He’s always grappled with life and has stood out since childhood as a result of being different to others. This spirit continues in his adult life and even extends into his work as a Surprise vendor, where he delights customers with his unconventional sales methods that include juggling and dancing.

Our vendors: Benoit Chartier (L’itinéraire, Montreal, Canada)

Benoit Chartier sells L’itinéraire from his pitch at the corner of Bercy Street and Ontario Street East in Montreal. He has been a vendor for 20 years and credits his work with providing him with respite from feelings of isolation by enabling him to meet people and to be part of the wider community. He has a message for both L’itinéraire and his customers: “Bravo!”

Big Issue Australia vendors on the bushfires ravaging their country

As fires continue to burn a path through the Australian bush, claiming lives and homes and displacing communities, those who are homeless have few, if any, options to escape the smoke. Two Big Issue Australia vendors give first-hand accounts of the impact of the devastation.

Irvine Welsh writes a letter to his 25-year-old self for the street paper network

At the tail end of 2019, to celebrate INSP’s 25th anniversary, we asked vendors across the street paper network to write letters to their 25-year-old selves. We also asked one of the street paper network’s long-time supporters to do the same: Scottish writer Irvine Welsh. Now 61, the following is the typically foul-mouthed and idiosyncratic words Welsh had for his 25-year-old self.

There are literally thousands of people dying homeless on the streets of America

Days before Christmas, communities across the US joined together to memorialise those who had died while homeless that year. INSP North America director Israel Bayer summed up the tragedies that have beset countless homeless Americans, while a group of the country’s street papers collaborated on making sure these remembrances, and the people they were about, were noticed.

Our vendors: Jin-feng Shiu (The Big Issue Taiwan, Kaohsiung, Taiwan)

Mr. Shiu is a Big Issue Taiwan vendor from Kaohsiung who sells copies of the magazine from his pitch in front of the KFC at the crossroads beside the entrance gate to Kaohsiung Medical University and Shihcyuan Road. He started working with Big Issue Taiwan in May, and Shiu is embracing the prospect of becoming self-reliant through his work.

Our vendors: Elena and Fagaras (Apropos, Salzburg, Austria)

Elena Onice and Fagaras Banu are originally from Romania and are building a life for their family in Salzburg, Austria. But one family member is missing: their six-month-old daughter, Sara-Elena, is in hospital in Romania as she is disabled and needs additional support. Here, the couple talk about their hopes for the future, what happiness means to them and their hope that they will soon be able to visit their young daughter in Romania.

Our vendors: Karin Pacozzi (Surprise, Zurich, Switzerland)

Karin Pacozzi, 52, is a Surprise vendor who sells copies of the street paper on local trains. After suffering a breakdown in her early twenties, memories of her traumatic childhood re-emerged. This, combined with poor treatment from her psychiatrist and family during her recovery, made her turn to drugs. Now in control of her addiction, living independently and working as a Surprise vendor, Karin is proud of the financial freedom she attains through her work and of her daughter’s achievements.

Our vendors: Julie B. (The Contributor, Nashville, USA)

Julie B. has made a name for herself in the Contributor office for being determined and resilient. Here, she reflects on her Native American heritage, talks about the hard work being done by street paper vendors and discusses what life is like with a brain cancer diagnosis.

Our vendors: Samuel Osaigbovo (zebra., Bolzano, Italy)

Samuel Osaigbovo, 34, is originally from Edo State, Nigeria, and now calls Bolzano home. He tells zebra about what moved him to leave his native Nigeria, his journey to Europe and life in his adopted hometown of Bolzano, the capital city of Italy’s South Tyrol province. He is hopeful that his work as a vendor will help him to negotiate the path to secure employment.

Life on the streets: Foot health, a never-ending struggle

Portland’s Street Roots has a periodic column about the parts of homelessness most people don’t talk about. When you’re on your feet all day, wearing tatty, worn out and often sodden shoes, and then sharing space with groups of people in shelters that aren’t exactly kept in the best state, it’s no wonder people on the street struggle with maintaining healthy feet. Street Roots spoke to vendors about this often overlooked problem.

Big Issue Japan vendor Toshihiko Sakata to his 25-year-old self: “Your future is as deep, vast, and full of hidden potential as the Pacific Ocean”

To mark the end of INSP’s 25th anniversary year, we have been asking vendors across the street paper network to write a letter to their 25-year-old self. This is the final instalment in the #VendorLetters series, and features veteran Big issue Japan vendor Toshihiko Sakata writing lyrically about his life.