The Big Issue is more than a magazine – it’s a life-changing connection to the community and an essential source of income and pride for an army of fluoro-clad sellers across Canberra.
Their lives and experiences with The Big Issue have been celebrated during Anti-Poverty Week (13 to 19 October).
Hosted by Woden Community Service and held in the Woden Town Square on 15 October, The Big Issue: A Pathway from Poverty exhibition featured photos and stories of people who sell The Big Issue in and around Canberra.
Visitors to the Square had an opportunity to learn about The Big Issue and how it has changed vendors’ lives, like Peter, through supplementary income, skill development and social inclusion.
Peter’s story is common among Big Issue vendors.
Peter is a vibrant, energetic and experienced salesperson who, with his wife Genice, has developed a market for The Big Issue magazine at his patch out the front of Kmart in Queanbeyan.
“We have built this patch up over the last 18 months,” Peter told Region Media in June. “When we first started we would sit here for hours with no sales and thought we didn’t have a hope in hell. Then all of a sudden people started buying and now we have regular repeat customers who know us,” he said.
“People don’t realise how much enjoyment we get out of doing The Big Issue,” said Peter. “It’s our business. We haven’t won lotto. We work really hard at it, but it is great.”
Peter was a feature in the Woden exhibition, and he’s still a feature in Queanbeyan.
Selling The Big Issue has helped to increase incomes, social connections, business skills and confidence, all of which help vendors move out of poverty.
Vendors use the money to buy better food, buy and maintain cars, go on holiday or pay for dental work, among other things. The Big Issue vendors take pride in earning an income by being their own business people.
Woden Community Service (WCS) works with a range of organisations across the community sector with the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) to intensify our advocacy against poverty.
WCS manages the ACT operations of The Big Issue. WCS distributes magazines and provide support, training and materials to vendors. This support extends to assistance with tackling housing, health, training or employment problems.
To become a vendor, contact WCS.