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.
68-year-old Jela Veraguth sells Surprise at Limmatplatz in the Swiss city of Zurich. She talks about creating a home in the country after having to flee Serbia, and the health issues her family has had to endure. Jela has been selling Surprise for 20 years.
According to Chicago street paper StreetWise, one of its goals is to be entertaining while highlighting issues affecting its vendors and giving them a voice. Reviewing Oscar-nominated films has become an annual opportunity to give them a chance to tell their own story in a unique way. This year, a cast of 17 vendors weigh in on some of the films up for honours at the 92nd Academy Awards.
Street paper vendors are often defined by their living situation, but as INSP and street papers are at constant pains to point out, they are much more than just homeless. Hinz&Kunzt’s Golem and Jörg connect with the catharsis of punk rock.
#VendorWeek is a time to celebrate vendors but, such is the nature of their lives, sometimes tragedy strikes, and it is good to remember that, and the people that tragedy touches, too. Earlier this year, Montréal-based paper L’Itinéraire lost one of their vendors. Stéphane Avard was a bright and loving person worn thin by years of homelessness, and his story speaks to the relationship between sleeping rough and mental illness. The magazine’s editor wrote a touching tribute.
2020 will be a momentous year in US politics. Will Trump evade impeachment to be re-elected? Will the Democrats find a big enough character to run against him? To measure the pulse in the US capital, two Street Sense vendors from Washington DC, with very different opinions, give their take on the state of the nation.
There is surely no more apt a time to announce your Vendor of the Year than to coincide with #VendorWeek. That’s what Ohio-based paper Toledo Streets have done. Its vendor Shaun “Rooster” Tinch exhibits all the qualities that the street paper hopes to inspire, says its vendor manager Claire McKenna.
Some residents of Downtown Oakland might recognise Derrick Hayes from the mural of him that adorns the building at 14th and Franklin; others might know him as the familiar face that sells Street Spirit from his various pitches in the area. He is a man who radiates friendliness, treasures the community around him and who talks candidly and emotionally about the journey that has brought him to the present moment.
For The Big Issue Australia’s #VendorWeek edition, vendors from all over Australia offered words of advice, hard-won wisdom and love to their teenaged selves.
Dwd sells Street Roots from a pitch shared with other vendors near the Starbucks at Northwest Couch Street and 11th Avenue in Portland with the help of his trusty canine friend Kephirah. Dwd is enjoying his work as a Street Roots vendor and is learning about photojournalism with the organisation’s help. He hopes to engage with the public about the great work that the paper is doing to support vendors as they work together with the community.
Radomir, 28, sells Surprise at Basel train station in Switzerland. He’s always grappled with life and has stood out since childhood as a result of being different to others. This spirit continues in his adult life and even extends into his work as a Surprise vendor, where he delights customers with his unconventional sales methods that include juggling and dancing.
Benoit Chartier sells L’itinéraire from his pitch at the corner of Bercy Street and Ontario Street East in Montreal. He has been a vendor for 20 years and credits his work with providing him with respite from feelings of isolation by enabling him to meet people and to be part of the wider community. He has a message for both L’itinéraire and his customers: “Bravo!”