Big comeback

Big Issue vendor Kellee is raring to go (top). Photo by Paul McGovern. The first Australian edition was sold in Melbourne in 1996 (bottom). Photo by Ilana Rose.

AFTER a three month COVID-19 hiatus, the beloved Big Issue will hit the streets on Monday (June 29).

Since the first Australian issue was sold in 1996 on the steps of Flinders Street Station, the magazine has gone from strength to strength and now has about 800 vendors across the country.

Big Issue WA operations manager Andrew Joske says vendors love their job and the lockdown hit them hard.

“The Big Issue provides a meaningful source of income as well as a connection to the community for our vendors, and they found it tough to not see their customers and have this regular income,” he told the Herald.

“To assist vendors in need, The Big Issue created a Hardship Fund and have been in regular contact with all vendors. 

“The thing vendors miss the most is the interactions they have with their customers. They are all very excited to get back to selling magazines and seeing their regulars.”

Next week’s Welcome Back edition is a celebration of the vendors, with moving stories about what they did during the pandemic. It also has interviews with director Spike Lee, author Rutger Bregman and a Letter To My Younger Self by olympianLisa Curry.

To date more than 13 million Big Issues have been sold, with the fortnightly magazine putting $30 million into the pockets of disadvantaged Australians (vendors buy copies for $4.50 and sell them for $9, keeping the difference).

People don’t just the buy the magazine out of compassion; its topical articles and irreverent tone make it a good read, with people lapping up vendors’ stories, celebrity profiles, commentary, culture and in-depth social justice investigations.

The first Australian edition was sold on June 16 1996 in Melbourne, and was based on the successful Big Issue UK model.

Mr Joske says people can’t wait to get their hands on the latest edition.

“We have received many calls and emails from customers who have been missing our vendors and the magazine. 

“We are expecting people to be keen to find their local vendors and buy a magazine, although we understand that the streets are still quieter than usual. 

“To ensure that customers can buy magazines safely, all our vendors have done Covid-safe training and many now have cashless payment systems.”

To find out more about the Big Issue go to http://www.thebigissue.org.au

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