Street papers provide global update on how the world’s homeless population is facing the coronavirus
The Big Issue took stock of how coronavirus is affecting the world’s homeless community, providing another update on just how severely the spread of the virus is impacting street papers and the people for which they provide an income.
UK street papers The Big Issue and Big Issue North will, for the first time, be sold in select shops and supermarkets across the country in response to the effects of the crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. Vendors of both magazines had been advised to no longer sell on the streets after the UK government enforced lockdown measures in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
As the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to cause unprecedented disruption for the entire street paper network, we’ve compiled a list of all the ways you can currently support each of the publications and their vendors.
As the world reacts to the outbreak of COVID-19, street papers are having to adapt to an environment of social distancing and isolation, a situation not conducive to selling street papers in the traditional way – by vendors on the street. They are now facing up to the challenge of how to continue providing a livelihood for those that rely on them. Supported by a global network, they are coming up with innovative ways to keep going.
With The Big Issue no longer able to have its vendors sell the magazine on the street, the great majority have seen their usual way of earning an income vanish overnight. Here, they describe how the coronavirus lockdown is going to affect them.
Quiver Watts, editor of San Francisco’s Street Sheet, writes that the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak not only poses a greater risk to the city’s population living in poverty, but argues that they will be made “a convenient scapegoat to take attention off the real failures in the city’s emergency response”.
Scarp de’ tenis editor Stefano Lampertico: “Coronavirus makes no exceptions for street paper vendors”
Italy is in nationwide lockdown, effectively quarantining its entire population in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Inside the initial red zone of the northern region of Lombardy sits the city of Milan, where Italian street paper Scarp de’ tenis is based. The magazine’s editor Stefano Lampertico writes vividly of life under lockdown for the publication and the vendors it serves.
INSP North America director Israel Bayer: “For those on the front lines of homelessness, Covid-19 represents a reality that people already live with every single day”
Israel Bayer, director of INSP North America, provides context for why the official response to the coronavirus outbreak in the region is failing those who are homeless and living in poverty, and writes about why systemic injustices mean that, amidst this health crisis, that community is being left behind.
Street Roots executive director Kaia Sand sends a dispatch from Oregon after visiting a small homeless camp housing a handful of the Portland street paper’s vendors who have become proactive about safeguarding themselves and staying healthy as the coronavirus panic sweeps the Pacific Northwest United States.
With coronavirus cases across the world now at well over 100,000, Italy is in lockdown and the US west coast is bearing the brunt of Covid-19’s appearance in America. INSP spoke again with street paper staff about the effect it is having on their organisations and vendors, with particular attention given to how staff are assisting vendors to stay safe and healthy.
As the impact of the coronavirus spreads further around the world, guidance has been put in place for how to prevent it spreading and what to do if you suspect you have contracted it. However, rough sleepers cannot safeguard themselves in the same ways the general public can. The Big Issue spoke to homeless shelters and other front-line service providers to find out what plans they have in place.
Coronavirus – or Covid-19 – has spread to multiple countries with street paper representatives, including Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Italy. INSP is gathering information about how measures by governments and the medical community, and the reaction of the general public, are affecting street paper vendors in those locations.