Our Story

The world’s first ‘street paper’ (as we recognise them today) was born in New York in 1989. Street News inspired early North American street papers in the late 80s and early 90s and also inspired The Big Issue to launch as a ‘social business’ in the UK in 1991. The Big Issue paved the way for a street paper movement across Europe.

INSP launched as a network in 1994 and NASNA (the North American Street Newspaper Association) launched in 1996. The two networks worked collaboratively until 2013, when INSP became the single global network for street papers on all six continents.

INSP was incorporated as a Scottish charity – The INSP Foundation – in Glasgow in 2005. From that point, INSP began to grow as an organisation, supporting an expanding network and developing its projects and services to street papers.

The past 20 years have seen social shifts and economic changes that pose challenges to our members but also mean that the need for their work – supporting some of the poorest people in our towns and cities – has never been more necessary.

In recent years, the global recession and related political and economic changes have had a significant impact on urban poverty and homelessness. Issues such as economic migration, unemployment and housing shortages have meant that the poverty and homelessness demographic continues to change. The stigmatisation of poverty and homelessness pose challenges to our members in terms of their sustainability, but also increases the need for their unique form of social justice editorial and campaigning work.

The Big Issue's first edition

Our network today…

INSP is made up of 110 street papers in 35 countries, published in 24 languages.

Our vendors

  • Our network has supported almost 300,000 marginalised people since the first street paper was published in 1989.
  • There are 10,000 vendors selling street papers at any one time.
  • Over the last year, more than 27,000 people have earned an income by selling a street paper.

Our street papers

  • In the last year, a total of 23.3 million street papers were sold across the world.
  • Our street paper network speaks to 5.8 million readers worldwide.
  • Last year, vendors earned a grand total of £25 million.

Our values:

  • We are committed to challenging inequality and social exclusion.
  • We nurture creative and innovative approaches to social problems.
  • We respect different approaches and perspectives and are committed to learning from each other.
  • We are committed to socially responsible, transparent and ethical operations.
  • We use our resources wisely and seek pro bono support and partnerships to ensure low costs.
  • We respect our network of members and our board as their elected representatives.
  • We are committed to fair pay and we value our staff, interns and volunteers.