Nota Bene: Slovakia’s sole street paper celebrates its 15th year

More than 200 people have gathered in Bratislava to toast local street paper Nota Bene on its  15th birthday.

Staff were joined by vendors past and present, as well as lots of supporters for an open-air party earlier this month. They enjoyed food and music – and talks by those whose lives have been changed by Slovakia’s only street paper.

Slovakia's only street paper based in Bratislava celebrates its 15th birthday in 2016. Credit: Vladimir Simicek

Tomáš Dobrovič, who works in Nota Bene’s fundraising team, shared the day’s highlights with INSP.

“We had a very nice roof garden celebration,” said Tomáš. “It’s the first time we have asked vendors to also invite their customers. Some of them came, making it a great mix of people with nice food, cake and music.”

Vendors buy Nota Bene for €0.70 and sell it at €1.40 – helping homeless people to regain self-esteem, earn a decent income and make new social contacts.

Silvia is just one of the vendors the magazine has helped recently. She’s been selling Nota Bene for six months, and delighted to join the celebrations.

“It’s helped me to survive from day to day,” she said of the paper. “Though, it’s hard to meet people who make it clear they despise me. But I also found people who have a lot of understanding.”

A collage of the Nota Bene's 15th birthday party celebrations. Credit: Vladimir Simicek

Silvia’s life has taken a good turn in the last couple of months having found work and accommodation – taking her off the streets of Bratislava.

Another highlight of the day was a surprise raffle draw which saw a lucky vendor win one month’s free rent.

Writing on Nota Bene’s Facebook page following the celebrations, Tomáš shared the paper’s ambition for the future.

It reads: “We are aware of the responsibility that this age [15] brings. We take our puberty seriously and will persist. Thank you for the most important thing… buying and reading Nota Bene!”