“In the last year, our vendors earned £25 million”

By David Meiklejohn

“Welcome to three days of working together,” said INSP Chairman Serge Lareault as social entrepreneurs from international street papers arrived in Glasgow on Wednesday to celebrate 20 years of the INSP at the 2014 conference.

With 123 papers in 41 countries around the world, the network continues to go from strength to strength, helping 20,000 vendors a year as they work their way out of poverty.

“We are impractical practitioners,” argued Big Issue UK founder John Bird, after announcing that he has recently become the “UK’s best serious comedian” with his own stand-up show. “Lots of people tell capitalism off but they don’t give you something to do. We do something – we start street papers, and run them over the years.

“It’s been a great ride over the last 20 years,” he added, concluding the welcome from The Big Issue, as hosts of this year’s conference. “One of the reasons I love the INSP is because we can all share and work together.”

Introducing the latest figures gathered from the group, INSP Chief Executive Maree Aldam said that the network currently has a readership of 6 million people per edition.

While there are challenges ahead, as for the whole of print media, she acknowledged, but the number of people helped by INSP street papers remains striking.

“In the last year, our vendors earned £25 million,” she said. “This week we will look at the issues we all face and share our ideas.”

Thus fired up, the process of exchange began immediately with an animated session of speed networking [pictured].