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.
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.
Mr. Shiu is a Big Issue Taiwan vendor from Kaohsiung who sells copies of the magazine from his pitch in front of the KFC at the crossroads beside the entrance gate to Kaohsiung Medical University and Shihcyuan Road. He started working with Big Issue Taiwan in May, and Shiu is embracing the prospect of becoming self-reliant through his work.
Standing in the corridor outside the exit gate of Hsinchu Railway Station, Li-qiu is waiting for customers to buy copies of Big Issue Taiwan from her. She is still adjusting after moving to her new pitch less than a month ago after construction work started at her old one. “I’m trying to get used to it. I’m not quite familiar with the environment and customers over here,” she says. Despite the fact that sales have been slow today, Li-qiu thrives on her contact with customers and is happy to be working.
Mei-hung is a Big Issue Taiwan vendor on Guohua Street in Tainan. She speaks about her work in a variety of jobs, the illnesses that have stopped her from finding steady work and the kindness of strangers that makes her life easier.
Street papers from across East Asia and Australia get together for INSP’s first Asia-Pacific regional meeting
Staff from four Big Issue titles based in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia got together in Osaka for INSP’s first Asia-Pacific regional meeting, to talk and learn more about the unique problems facing each of them and the innovative projects they are involved in.
Mr. Huang sells The Big Issue Taiwan from his pitch outside the Qizhang metro station in Taipei. His life changed five years ago when two workplace accidents and a cancer diagnosis transformed his physical health. Having made peace with the past, Huang is grateful that being a Big Issue vendor provides him with a steady income and is looking forward to the future with hope.
Last night, at the 2018 INSP Awards, The Big Issue Taiwan was victorious in the Best Design category. Part of their win can be put down to the work of Aaron (Yung-chen Nieh) who, remarkably, designed 95 out of the last 100 covers of the street paper. His contemporary and stylish designs have endowed the covers of the magazine with a unique visual style that has not only proved popular with readers, but which has also attracted a great deal of attention from professional designers. For the magazine’s 100th issue, Aaron shared his insights regarding how to design an effective front cover and talked more about his work with The Big Issue Taiwan.
Chen has been selling The Big Issue Taiwan at Xihu Station since the start of this year. Business is up and down, but he is determined to succeed: he chose his pitch at Xihu Station after realising there weren’t any vendors already working there and he has made the spot his own. Here, he looks back on his life and expresses his gratitude to those who have helped him through difficult times.
Old lady Zhong, as she is known, has been a Big Issue Taiwan vendor for two years. Here, she tells her life story; from her days spent caring for her paraplegic father to her professional life and motherhood. She also reflects on the support that she has received from various benefactors throughout her life and speaks of her desire to carry out similar acts of kindness for others.
For many street paper vendors, getting the opportunity to sell the paper us a lifeline. For Long-Zhu, Li, in Taiwan, this is no different, and his sales figures for the past year are his proudest achievement of 2017.