Regular street paper readers will recognise the long running technique of profiling a street paper vendor. Swiss magazine Surprise has chosen to reverse the perspective. Urs Habegger (65), who works as a Surprise vendor in Rapperswil, provides a portrait of one of his regular customers. Katharina Hiller is a pastor; here, she reflects on her path towards the religious life and on the importance of giving voice to social issues.
Street papers have found themselves increasingly to be at the centre of the refugee crisis. Higher numbers of people selling street papers across different parts of the world have fled from their home countries due to poverty, persecution and conflict. Not only do street papers have the ability to platform their voices and stories, but they also offer a stable income when a place in the mainstream job market may seem out of reach. Their support beyond simply selling the magazine – assisting in applying for documentation and permits, looking for a new place to live, and language classes – means a pathway to integration into what is sometimes a new and unfamiliar society. Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June, INSP and its member street papers are helping some refugees – who now work selling street papers – to tell their story.
Surprise’s Taoufik Narati: “When I grew up, I knew I would have barely any chance of getting a job and living a good life in Tunisia with my disability”
Taoufik Narati, 59, came to Europe from Tunisia many years ago. He contracted polio asa young child and underwent many operations to ease his condition; however, as a young man, he realised that there would be few opportunities in Tunisia for someone with his condition. He has built himself a happy life in Switzerland and feels thankful for his work, selling the national street paper Surprise, and loving family life.
Thirteen years ago, Zeynab Ahmed, 31, fled Somalia after living in fear under the threat of the terrorist militia al-Shabaab. She has since built a life for herself: she lives with her husband and children in Münchenstein, Switzerland and sells Surprise. She sees her future as being in Switzerland but would dearly love to see her mother in Somalia one last time.
Jamie Hӓnni, 23, collaborated with Swiss street paper Surprise for a one-shot five-minute film that showcases the unique stories of four individuals who sell the magazine.
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.
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.
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.
Swiss street paper Surprise teamed up with a lucrative local ad agency for #VendorWeek transforming pitch locations into bold, eye-catching billboards to draw more attention to vendors out selling street papers.
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.
Karin Pacozzi, 52, is a Surprise vendor who sells copies of the street paper on local trains. After suffering a breakdown in her early twenties, memories of her traumatic childhood re-emerged. This, combined with poor treatment from her psychiatrist and family during her recovery, made her turn to drugs. Now in control of her addiction, living independently and working as a Surprise vendor, Karin is proud of the financial freedom she attains through her work and of her daughter’s achievements.
Nikola Babic, 50, sells Surprise in the centre of Langenthal, Switzerland. He moved to Switzerland from Serbia five years ago and has remained in Switzerland because of political problems in his home country. He contacted Surprise while struggling to find work and is grateful to have been given the opportunity to become a vendor. He is looking forward to spending his remaining years before retirement doing the very best he can at his work.
Alunita Nicola is from Romania and she now works as a Surprise vendor in Winterthur, Switzerland. The thing that motivates Alunita is her desire to provide a better life for her son than the one that she has had: Alunita experienced a challenging upbringing in Romania before first travelling to Germany at the age of 19. Now living in Switzerland, Alunita is working hard to support herself and her son and is optimistic about what she can achieve through hard work.
Soccer and street papers: Players from Surprise’s street soccer project are Switzerland’s representatives at the 2019 Homeless World Cup
Not everyone knows that street paper organisations have myriad social projects that go alongside the creation and sale of the publication itself. Sport programmes are increasingly popular and at the 2019 Homeless World Cup several of the competing nation teams were chosen from such projects. INSP caught up with Axel Woltmann, one of the players on the Swiss team, which stems from the country’s street paper organisation, Surprise.
This International Women’s Day, INSP is sharing stories from street papers that highlight the experiences of homeless women. Women are less likely to end up sleeping rough than men. They are more likely to receive help, and may have better support networks. But they are also more vulnerable on the streets. Swizz street paper Surprise looks at some of the reasons why women are less likely to be expected to end up on the streets.
Marlies Dietiker worked as a Surprise vendor for over ten years from her pitch at Olten station, a railway hub that links Switzerland’s major cities. She sadly hasn’t been able to return to work after undergoing two major surgeries in the last three years. Although no longer working as a Surprise vendor, Marlies has many fond memories of her work as a vendor. Here, she explains why working for Surprise was the perfect thing for her.
This year we asked vendors: if you could give a song as a present this Christmas, what would you choose? The result was the INSP Vendor Playlist, which is now available for your listening pleasure. Seven Surprise vendors chipped in with their choices.
Roger Meier’s vision of Bern, Switzerland, is different to that of a Federal Council member or that of Japanese tourists visiting the city. It is also profoundly different from the perspective of an average Bernese. In his work as a Surprise tour guide in Bern, Roger Meier is sharing his experiences of living on the streets for 20 years.
Surprise vendor Ali Nur Mohammed was badly injured in an attack carried out by Al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia. He lost his right leg in the attack and the prosthetic limb that he has worn ever since causes him chronic pain. After reading about him in an issue of Surprise, Ronnie Schenkein set up a fund for Mohammed. This is what happened when the two met for the first time.
After a 10-year journey through Europe, the artist Slavcho Slavov has found a home in Switzerland. Now living in Bern, he has added writing to his artistic repertoire and has written a book about his former life on the street. Last night at the 2018 INSP Awards, this piece won Best Cultural Feature. Now, you can read it in full.
What would you do if you had lived in a country for over a decade and were then given the order to leave? For ¬Tareq Islami, this situation became a reality in late 2018 when he received a removal order from the Swiss authorities. Here, Tareq talks about the life he has built in Switzerland, and how the uncertainty of living with the threat of deportation has been lessened by the support that they have received from friends and colleagues in Basel.
In December 2015 Laila, a refugee from Yemen, and Toufik, a Moroccan looking for a better life, went to the immigration office to get papers for their wedding. Instead he was arrested and deported. Surprise tells the story of their fight to be reunited.
In 2013, Heiko lost his job, his marriage and his apartment. He lived under a bridge for two years. Just as he was getting help, his daughter died and he turned to drink, but he has managed to turn things around again. Now he is a Surprise vendor, and a city tour guide.
Roger Meier used to work in construction: he helped renovate the concrete walls of the Mühleberg nuclear power plant and once plastered a concrete dam. Now he sells Surprise at the Bärenplatz in Bern.
In the last of our vendor wishes series, Surprise vendor Tatjana tells us she hopes to be reunited with her family in Switzerland in the coming year.
Andreas has worked in the stock exchange and even transported works of art with a revolver at his side. He shares his life lessons from the top to hitting rock bottom.
Homeless World Cup special! Ahead of this year’s tournament – which kicks off in Glasgow this Sunday – INSP caught up with Surprise vendor Ruedi Kälin, who has been selected for the Swiss team.