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Best Practices for Human Settlements
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The Big Issue is a magazine sold by homeless people in order that they can earn an income and regain their self esteem. All post-investment profits generated by the magazine are mandated to The Big Issue Foundation which provides the support in order to help the socially excluded re-integrate into society. The Big Issue has been instrumental in setting up papers in Western and Eastern Europe, South Africa and Australia.
With financial backing from The Body Shop Foundation, The Big Issue - Europe's first
street paper was launched as a monthly publication in September l99l, with a print-run of
30,000 and approximately 30 vendors. A year later it went fortnightly and in June 1993,
The Big Issue was re-launched as a weekly magazine.
1. Since its inception, The Big Issue has given over 6000 homeless people the opportunity to help themselves and move off the streets through earning an income from selling the paper.
2. The Big Issue has changed the relationship between homeless people and the public. It has directly challenged traditional stereotypes surrounding the homeless.
3. Keeps the issue of homelessness in the magazine, as well as in the national media - press, radio and TV.
4. The Big Issue gives homeless people a voice in The Street Lights section of the magazine, which is written by homeless people about their own experiences.
4. In the inner city, The Big Issue has developed a partnership with the police who view the initiative as a positive way to tackle a social problem, and to cut down petty crime.
5. It has altered the way in which the government view homeless people. It also forces the government to recognise that the homeless are a powerful group who can instigate change in their own lives when provided with the means to do so. In effect, it highlights the need for a different approach to the problem.
6. As a result of The Big Issue's success, a discussion has developed amongst other homeless charities about the various approaches to working with the homeless
7. The Big Issue has also challenged perceptions in the media. It is a successful marriage of media and social responsibility and as such is a move a way from the traditional approach to both.
The Big Issue is extremely successful both as a magazine and a social initiative. It has demonstrated how the concept of business can be moulded in order to effect social change. Its success in helping homeless people help themselves is demonstrated by the fact that, since its launch the number of regular vendors working with The Big Issue - London has grown from 50 to 800. Between all The Big Issues, over 6,000 homeless people have been provided with the opportunity to help themselves in the last four years. The Big Issue has not just enabled them to earn a living but it has empowered homeless people through their own actions, and thereby helped them to regain their self esteem. Equally as important, support and training is available to all vendors through the social initiative. The purpose of the support and training is to enable vendors to re-integrate into society.
Name of the key organisations:
The Big Issue
Body Shop International plc
04 / 91: The Body Shop Foundation agrees to put up initial finance for a street paper in London.
09 / 91: The Big Issue is launched in London as a monthly magazine, with a circulation of 30,000 and 50 vendors.
09 / 92: The Big Issue goes fortnightly on its first birthday, with a circulation of 50,000.
Distribution outlets open in: Manchester, Brighton, Bath, Bristol, Wales and West Midlands.
06 / 93: The Big Issue goes weekly, with a circulation of 80,000.
06 / 93: Launch of The Big Issue - Scotland
01 / 94: First Audited Bureau of Circulation (ABC) 87,201.
06 / 94: Launch of The Big Issues - Ireland. It started as a monthly. Due to its huge success it re-launched as a fortnightly in November 1994. The Big Issues now sells 40,000 copies per fortnight. and has national distribution.
07 / 94: Launch of The International Network of Street Papers (INSP), funded by the European Commission and facilitated by the International Department of The Big Issue.
07 / 95: ABC figure is 108,526. The Big Issue working with approximately 6,000 vendors annually.
10 / 95: INSP's inaugural conference held in London. Launch of street paper charter.
11 / 95: Launch of The Big Issue Foundation, the charitable arm of The Big Issue.
01 / 96: ABC has increased to 120, 960 weekly.
Status of The Big Issue:
Non-profit company; all post-investment profits are mandated to The Big Issue Foundation.
The Big Issue
We are an independent organisation originally funded by The Body Shop
The Big Issue - Scotland
The Big Issues - Ireland
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