Street papers put £23.4 million in the pockets of world’s most disadvantaged

Street paper vendors earned a total of £23.4 million last year, according to new figures collated by INSP ahead of this year’s #VendorWeek, which kicks off on Monday.

INSP brings together 112 street papers across 35 countries. Every February, the network joins together to celebrate their vendors and their international reach.

Mi Valedor's Oscar is one of the stars of 2016's #VendorWeek campaign

INSP Chief Executive Maree Aldam said: “It’s incredible to see the collective impact of the INSP network; in 27 years, street papers have helped hundreds of thousands of the most disadvantaged people in cities worldwide.

“In the past year alone, our 112 member street papers have enabled our hard-working vendors have earned a share of more than £23 million.

“It’s also a testament to the strength of the enterprising model that – in challenging times for mainstream print media – 23.5 million street papers were sold last year.”

Since the first street paper was published in New York in 1989, street papers have offered a means to earn an income to almost 300,000 marginalised people.

The network continues to grow and evolve, said Maree: “We have recently seen new street papers launching in the USA, Mexico, Austria and Finland. We look forward to the impact they will have as part of the INSP network for many more years to come.”

Over the last year, INSP street papers allowed 27,000 people to earn an income. At any one time, there are around 11,000 street paper vendors out on the streets.

Vendors frequently talk about the enormous impact that selling a street paper has had on their lives.

Craig Newman sells The Big Issue, in Bristol, in the UK. He said the street paper was a life-saver.

“It’s been about six years since I quit drugs. I got myself a little flat but I still struggled with loneliness and isolation,” he explained.

“When I started selling The Big Issue in Bristol it was life-changing. I began to get myself together. It gave me routine, structure, and got me connecting with people again. It probably saved my life.”

Hus forbi vendor Andre sells the street paper in Denmark

Danish vendor André Christiansen agreed.

Hus Forbi has helped me get a decent life rather than being a beggar,” said André of selling the street paper in Copenhagen. “I have something to offer to people now. I talk to many people about the paper, the content, what it is like to be homeless.”

Hus Forbi is now the most-read paid-for, monthly magazine in Denmark with an ABC-certified readership of 526,000 in 2015. Worldwide, street papers have a readership of 5.6 million.

In the last year, street papers sold a total of 23.5 million copies across the world.

They offer work to anyone who needs it – giving a hand up to many people who are marginalised by homelessness and poverty.

Lavina Hillman used to work in a law firm and now sells Real Change in Seattle. She said that open-door policy was very important for her after she lost her job and her home.

“Real Change is the only no-questions-asked programme. No discrimination,” she said.

To anyone who doubts whether selling a street paper is work, Lavina added: “if selling a cell phone is a real job, then selling a paper is too.”

INSP #VendorWeek runs from 1-7 February. Read more here. Sponsor one of our guest vendors in the UK here.

Donate to support street papers here.