The Big Issue vendors you see in the street are mostly homeless. Some suffer long term unemployment, some have physical or intellectual disabilities, some have significant family issues, some struggle with addiction, and most want a hand up, not a hand out. That’s what The Big Issue is.
Buy the magazine for $2.50, and sell it for $5, keeping the difference. This means that they are dependant on their own work. Selling The Big Issue helps vendors connect with the ‘mainstream’ public, gain emotional wellbeing and confidence through engaging with a meaningful and purposeful activity, and of course, earn money to buy food, accommodation, and other life-improving commodities. The process of talking to a customer is just as important as getting money for the magazine.
The Big Issue itself does not rely on donations or government funding – it is a self-sustaining enterprise – however, it is not a business as it does not aim for profit but for community benefit.
The Big Issue is connected to other ventures such as The Big Issue classroom, which aims to educate children on social issues, and breaks down stereotypes surrounding homelessness. It also runs Street Soccer, PILCH Homeless Person’s Legal Clinic and the Women’s subscription enterprise. For more information, check out www.bigissue.org.au.