The Big Issue Magazine Celebrates 25 Years of Social Enterprise – 96five Family Radio

The Big Issue Magazine Celebrates 25 Years of Social Enterprise

At 25 years young, The Big Issue magazine has helped Australia's homeless community pocket over $30 million in meaningful income.

By Nicky BeckerMonday 2 Aug 202196five BreakfastSocial Justice

Main Image:  Celebrations for the 25th anniversary of The Big Issue.  Listen:  Ken & Nicky speak with The Big Issue editor Amy Hetherington about how they’re helping the homeless and marginalised support themselves.

I have great memories from my youth, travelling into the Brisbane CBD and there on the corner of Queen St Mall, I’d see a vendor selling a magazine called The Big issue. 

What I probably didn’t realize back then was that the vendor was homeless, and through a purchase of that magazine, I had the power to restore dignity into their situation.

The Big Issue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and creating work opportunities for people experiencing homelessness, marginalisation and disadvantage. Simply put, they help people help themselves.

In June the magazine celebrated its 25th anniversary, with the first edition having been sold on the steps of Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station in 1996.

Ken from Brissy Brekky and I caught up with Amy Hetherington, editor of The Big Issue, to discuss how the magazine defines success.

Since those early days more than 13 million magazines have been sold, putting $32 million into the pockets of Australians experiencing disadvantage.

Even with their expansion across the country, at the heart of their success is that peoples lives are changed for the better.

Amy told us that “when we look at the impacts that selling The Big Issue has, vendors talks to us about it building self esteem, building community, helping them get back on their feet and that’s what’s really important”.

It was obvious that for Amy it was those personal stories that she loved the most.

“The Big Issue helped transform Grant’s life in 2015. As a vendor, he was able to get accommodation after a period of homelessness.  Bon in Adelaide, through a program run by The Big Issue, was connected to a literacy program and now he can read bedtime stories to his kids”.

We also asked Amy how we can support a vendor since traditionally, payment for magazine was cash. Now that we are seeing less and less people carrying money on us and the preference is for contactless payments, we wanted to know – is there still an opportunity to support the vendors?

The answer is yes! Listen to the interview with Amy at the top of the page to find out how.