After news of his death broke early last week, tributes began to pour in for popular Big Issue vendor Paul Kelly. Today at his pitch, outside Sainsbury’s supermarket on the city’s main shopping street Buchanan Street, where flowers, messages and mementos had sprung up in his absence, a crowd of people joined friends, colleagues, and others who had been touched by his character and presence, for a vigil in his memory.
All of us experience some degree of stress in our everyday lives. For those who are homeless, however, stress can be a debilitating and chronic issue. Street Roots talked to a number of individuals about their experiences of life on the streets and about the impact that stress has had on their lives. This is especially pertinent as delegates at this year’s ongoing Global Street Paper Summit talk about dealing with conflict and vendor welfare.
Asphalt vendor Sascha talks about his struggles with his mental health, his childhood, his love of movies and his penchant for creating movie themed podcasts. Asphalt is based in Hannover, the city hosting this year’s Global Street Paper Summit.
At the end of January, when there was still snow in Cologne, Draussenseiter vendor Lothar was equipped with an analogue camera and asked to record a day in his life. He liked the idea and started documenting straight away. Here you can see the selection of photos Lothar captured, along with his comments.
Originally from Romania, Reghina (55) is now an Asphalt vendor in Hannover, the host of this year’s Global Street Paper Summit. Here she speaks about being the subject of discrimination in her home country, moving with her kids to the Czech Republic, and then herself to Germany, and finding a kind of friendship with her customers.
A group of #INSP2019 delegates were lucky enough to learn about Hannover’s homelessness situation from host street paper, Asphalt, and one of its vendors, Thomas. Delegates visited the Asphalt office, learning about its processes and were given a tour of social spots important to those living on the streets of Hannover.
Bojana Ivanov Ljubomirov and Petar Jugovic are Liceulice vendors who have found happiness together. They were already working as magazine vendors when they met each other, and they have gone from strength to strength since joining forces to sell the magazine together. Not only are they growing in confidence; they are also building a life together and sharing their joy with others.
Isabelle Raymond, a L’itinéraire vendor based in Montréal, has always been sensitive to the differences between people. As a child, she recalls trying to educate her classmates when they made fun of students at a nearby school for children with special needs. When her sister was born with several health needs, and later diagnosed with intellectual disabilities, Isabelle gained privileged insights into what life is like for someone with special needs.
Real Change vendor Joseph was delighted to find community, support and hope when he moved into the new shelter housed at Seattle’s King County Jail. The new shelter initially proved divisive, with some – including Real Change Founding Director Tim Harris – voicing concern about the optics of housing people experiencing homelessness in a jail. For Joseph, the shelter has been a much-needed sanctuary. He explains how staying at the shelter has changed his life for the better.
Giuseppe has been working as a Scarp de ‘tenis vendor for five years in Naples, Italy. After experiencing a difficult period in his life, which was triggered by the death of his wife, Giuseppe found Scarp de ‘tenis and was able to make a new start. He’s grateful for the financial security that his work gives him and is delighted to have fallen in love again: with music.
The Big Issue has been part of Dodge Dawson’s life for many years and he’s always found his way back to the magazine. He credits the magazine with helping him to increase his confidence and to learn new skills. After being helped by so many people in his life, Dodge now volunteers with Street Vets and the NHS in addition to working as a Big Issue vendor. He wants to give something back in return for all of the help that he’s received from others.
The homeless community has long been the target of police action and prosecution, often creating an insurmountable backlog of tickets and non-violent misdemeanors that can effectively shut people off from safe housing, education and jobs, and perpetuating cycles of poverty. Portland’s Street Roots partnered with other organisations on a project aimed at helping vendors attain a clean slate.
Gerri has been an Augustin vendor for two decades and is a familiar face in Vienna. He sells the magazine in the Gürtel bar district, where he’s known for his friendly demeanour, is on first-name terms with the local bar owners and fields endless questions – with a certain level of bemusement – from people about the fact that he is nearly always barefoot.
The Big Issue Australia asked a selection of its vendors to share what it’s like to sleep when you have no place to call home.
Brian Lane credits his Lummi Tribe heritage with helping him to recover from a traumatic injury: he feels that the spirit of his tribal lineage gave him the ability to pull through. Now homeless and living with a disability, Brian has found something else that is helping him to navigate his way through life: Street Roots. His involvement with the magazine has brought growth, support and the possibility of moving forward.
For winning photographer Buffie Irvine, the Hope in Shadows project became more than a photo contest. She has been a Megaphone vendor for eight years and her father for 14. When customers realise the family connection, they start talking to her and it makes her feel close to her community. The Hope in Shadows photography project made her feel close to something else; something that she loved. Her Dad.
Réjean is a one-man band – an extremely talented individual. Here, he talks about his love of music, a more dangerous and temperamental love of alcohol, giving it up, using his talents for those in need and finding himself a L’Itinéraire vendor.
Helping readers get to know our vendors is a big motivator for putting together street papers. For this story, The Curbside Chronicle asked vendors to document a week’s worth of meals with a food diary, curious to know more about what vendors are eating. They photographed a single day of meals from several participants. The results were mixed — everything from multiple visits to soup kitchens to eating nothing at all. But one thing was clear, most vendors experience significant food insecurity. Hopefully this piece helps illustrate how poverty affects people and what they eat every day.
Life hasn’t been smooth sailing for Nondumiso Zigana, a Big Issue South Africa vendor, but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her heart’s desires. She shares her journey of being an unemployed widow to being a mother of intellectuals.
Portland’s Street Roots has a periodic column about the parts of homelessness most people don’t talk about. In this instalment, vendors describe how a common cold can potentially turn into a life threatening illness when they have nowhere to go to recuperate while sick.