The Big Issue

The Big Issue is a very successful program for street people in the UK, Australia and parts of Africa but as not widely known in the US. Basically, street people sell a newspaper/magazine call the 'Big Issue', and they keep 50% of the sale price in their pocket. The remaining 50% is the cost of producing a high grade newspaper. We quote directly from their website: "The Big Issue is the most successful social business in the UK. It's mission is not just about homelessness but also about its causes and how to address them. It’s about jobs, education and ...... training, health care, and mental health. The vendors get the opportunity to learn basic life skills, to share, and to belong to a family. They gain confidence, dignity, self-esteem, optimism, aspiration, as well as the ability to anticipate, and develop an entrepreneurial spirit. The Big Issue was conceived as a radical alternative to charity and government-funded social initiatives because its founders believed that most grant-funded responses to social problems can encourage dependency and a sense of helplessness among those in need. A total of 51,000 ‘unemployable’ people have been inducted into the vendor programme since launch. Over the last 10 years, the magazine has sold over 50 million copies, generating over £25 million in income for its vendors. "

And the aims of the Big Issue are to:
• Enable homeless people to earn a legal income through opportunities to help themselves
• Invest profits in services to help homeless people and Big Issue vendors tackle obstacles to them helping themselves
• Provide people with a voice in the media
• Produce a quality magazine which engages readers with issues that affect their lives but are overlooked by other media
• Provide an example of a socially responsible business and an alternative to conventional charity as a response to homelessness"
::The Big Issue [by WM]

PS: In the US and elsewhere, similar programs can be found through the Street Papers website.

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