The Big Issue Taiwan is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. It hasn’t exactly been the most ideal celebration. But Kuen-hua Shiu (Hua for short) first became a magazine vendor back in March 2010, returned to his work with the magazine in November 2019, and is still going even as COVID-19 has affected sales. You’ll find him in the pedestrian arcade at Dingxi Station in New Taipei City sitting on his mobility scooter, wearing his orange vendor’s vest and waiting to greet his customers.
Vendors in Kikinda, Serbia have taken a hit to their ability to sell the street paper Liceulice due to the COVID-19 restrictions in their city. Svetlana Kalinov shone during the height of the lockdown restrictions by selflessly encouraging a cohort of her vendor colleagues to donate their savings from selling the magazine to those struggling in the town of Novi Sad. She has also found herself helping out at a local day care centre. Liceulice, she says, makes her feel useful in a world where that connection has often evaded her.
Teresa Ng has been a Megaphone vendor for around eight years and usually sells the magazine from her pitch near East Hastings and Nanaimo Streets in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. She has kept herself busy during the pandemic but has been distressed by the racial abuse she has suffered as a result of her ethnicity. She is looking forward to returning to her work as a vendor. Dennis Chernyk has been a vendor for nearly two years and his pitch is near West Hastings and Granville Streets. In addition to his work with the street paper, Dennis enjoys writing, drawing, gardening, cooking, and spending time with his black short-haired cat Co-co. But, as Dennis tells us, not everyone is as enamoured with cats as he is.
Will, a Big Issue North vendor in Doncaster, writes lyrically about how a customer and now friend of his, photographer Andy Lynch, was there for him at his lowest ebb.
The lives of millions of people around the world were transformed when countries shut down in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus. For Big Issue vendor Mark, who is based in Adelaide, Australia, lockdown was spent fending off boredom, watching TV, talking to friends and family on the phone and dealing with… pigeons.
King County, home to Seattle’s Real Change, was a key area in the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, some normality is returning for its street paper vendors. Here are some of their stories.
The UK was a little behind the rest of Europe in seeing street paper vendors return to their pitches. Equipped with full PPE and contactless payment systems, those in northern England selling Big Issue North were both nervous and excited.
In this article, The Contributor catches up with several of its street paper vendors to find out how their lives and sales have been affected since COVID-19 hit. Although The Contributor has been able to continue printing physical copies of the paper during the pandemic, its vendors have had to adapt in order to maintain both their sales and their relationships with customers in a way that is safe for everyone.
After the coronavirus lockdown eased, Hinz&Kunzt vendors were looking forward to the restart, but also feeling slightly uneasy. They’ll need help – from Hinz&Kunzt, but also from the people working in the shops outside which they have their pitches. The Hamburg street paper accompanied vendor Thomas to his pitch.
Two Surprise vendors – Sandra and Ghide – speak about how the coronavirus lockdown has affected their way of life. For both, not being able to sell the magazine has been a disruption. But it also picks at other parts – the ability to stay to routine, and the manageability of employing coping mechanisms for health issues that are difficult to deal with at the best of times. Since these interviews, Surprise vendors, like many street papers in Europe, have gradually begun to return to work.
“I see myself as an astronaut far above the earth” – Hinz&Kunzt vendors on how COVID-19 has changed their lives
During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Hamburg-based street paper Hinz&Kunzt asked its vendors how severely they have been impacted by its effects.
Now that the world has stopped spinning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a great time to take a moment to meet a few un-fur-gettable vendor pets and hear about their amazing impact. Pets are a huge part of Curbside Chronicle vendors’ lives and they actively brighten even their most difficult days. We hope you’re also finding comfort in your furry friends as you practice social distancing!
We check in with vendors at Chicago-based street paper StreetWise as coronavirus has made it impossible for most of them to sell the magazine on the streets.
US street paper vendors on being denied voting rights as former felons when the democratic process is more important than ever
Coronavirus has even upended democracy. In a recent Wisconsin Democratic Primary vote, very little accommodation was made to ensure people could get out to vote, and do so safely. It’s a worry ahead of an important Presidential election set for later this year. If the current circumstances continue, the situation may end up actively stopping people from voting. But the US already has all sorts of different restrictions hampering the ability of its citizens to vote. Two Contributor vendors explain how their past felony charges bar them from exercising the franchise.
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.
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.
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.
Thi Nhin Nguyen arrived in Germany from Vietnam in 1995 and later moved to Salzburg, Austria, where she works as an Apropos vendor. She has built a life for herself in Salzburg and is happy in her work as a vendor, as it enables her to earn an income and to interact with her customers. Her life is one filled with hard work, caring for others and song.
“I will miss him”: As Nigerian street paper vendor prepares to leave Austria, he leaves behind his adopted grandmother
His name is Somadina Ifesinachi Okoye, but everyone calls him Kenneth. When he came to Austria in 2015 and began working as a vendor for the street paper marie, Kenneth quickly befriended Elsbeth Gaisbauer, who became like an adopted grandmother to him. Now, Kenneth is preparing to return to his home country of Nigeria, leaving behind Elsbeth, now 89. marie met the two for one last interview together.
You never see Rikke without Lukas. Rikke, an =Oslo vendor, is always in the company of her beloved husky, who is her constant companion. Rikke credits Lukas with helping her to navigate the most difficult challenges that she has faced. Now that Rikke has overcome her addiction to heroin, the pair are making the most of the joys that life can offer.
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.
In history and in pop culture, the full moon continually sparks feelings of fear, curiosity, and excitement. In the latest addition to ‘Life on the Streets’, the Street Roots series that tackles issues people facing homelessness experience, vendors speak on their own encounters with the ever-mysterious full moon.
The Big Issue has been reaching out to vendors across the street paper network to get the inside scoop on the cities they know best. This instalment features Big Issue Australia vendor Pat talking about Bangkok in Thailand, her home country. She sells the street paper in Perth, Western Australia.
Mr K. sells The Big Issue Japan from his pitch at Takatsuki station in Osaka and has been working as a vendor for three years. He credits his work with awakening his increased interest in the lives of others and giving back to the community. His dream is to return to his work as a chef and to open a restaurant that helps those in need. In the meantime, the happiness that he feels when he sells a copy of the magazine keeps him going.
INSP recently moved office, and now shares a space with The Big Issue. During #VendorWeek, we chatted to Anabel – who has been selling The Big Issue only as long as INSP has been office neighbours with the Glasgow-based street paper – about getting involved and what the magazine means for her.