The Big Issue : Edition 513
28 20 YEARS OF THE BIG ISSUE 3 – 16 JUNE 2016 it in Brisbane [in September 1997] and it seems incredible that it has reached its 40oth edition [and now, of course, well beyond that]. Peter Hollingworth, former Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane; later Governor-General of Australia A FORMER NSW VENDOR REMEMBERS: The sale price was only $2 and I got half, which added up to $1 for every copy I sold. I’d usually aim to sell 50 copies and would load up a couple of shoulder bags for the day. It was my job even though I didn’t have a job: in fact, I felt more like I was self-employed. I would pay $50 for my 50 copies and would get $100 back in return for my efforts. What this does for your self- esteem is immeasurable. My life had purpose, as simple as it might have been, and I can safely say The Big Issue saved me from total disillusionment... I always managed to sell my 50 copies before I’d call it quits for the day and the journey home was filled with a sense of satisfaction; a job well done. This little routine may not sound like much, but it did more than help me to survive. [It got me] out of a rut of hopelessness and helped me see clearly both within and beyond myself. Mark Richardson, who sold The Big Issue in Sydney and Wollongong, 1997–98 I posed in a cheap pair of very high heels for a cover [see right]. When the cover was unveiled at our new edition launch, one of the vendors shouted, “looks like a bloody bloke’s legs!” For some time after, when he needed to mull over a particularly complex editorial issue, editor Simon Castles would strap on these high heels and pace the room, a thoughtful expression on his face. Simon seemed very adept at walking in stilettos. Meg Mundell, deputy editor/staff writer, 1999–2003 I have so many great memories of Big Issue contributor parties and Christmas drinks – horrible wine in plastic cups, cramped damp quarters and a strange smell emanating from the carpet. Nevertheless, it’s all been made worthwhile by the quality of the conversation and the good friends that have been made over the years. How refreshing to meet a bunch of creative people who have more to talk about, and more to care about, than mortgages, superannuation and home renovation. Rochelle Siemienowicz, veteran staffer, film editor and reviewer MAINSTREAM MEDIA PAYS ATTENTION The Big Issue magazine is a self- help initiative for people who have been homeless or unemployed or have intellectual disabilities that preclude many types of jobs. The idea is brilliantly simple: vendors buy copies of the magazine for $1 and sell them for $2. The profit is all theirs, and often is the only money they get beyond the dole. Selling the magazine also gives those involved a sense of purpose. Maybe you have seen some of the vendors around town. There’s Bill the Dancing Man (as he styles himself) on the corner of Collins and Elizabeth Streets; Glen and his dogs at Parliament Station (Premier Jeff Kennett said hello one day but didn’t stop to buy a magazine); “Geezer” in the city in his coloured pants and jester’s hat, getting attention to make sales. Salesmanship is promoted, says Polly Caldow, the general manager of the magazine. “But you have to understand that the people we are trying to help are often the least likely to be good salespeople. Sometimes they can’t even look at other people.” Vendors are encouraged to smile at customers and start conversations. It sounds so simple, but for many it is not easy. From The Age, Melbourne, December 1998. The reporter was Alan Attwood, who got involved with The Big Issue in 2003 and is still hanging around. PRINCE CHARLES WAS INSPIRED TO WRITE FOR TBI IN BRITAIN AFTER RUNNING INTO AN OLD SCHOOLMATE SELLING THE MAGAZINE IN LONDON. “IT WAS A VIVID REMINDER,” HE WROTE, “THAT HOMELESSNESS CAN HAPPEN TO ALMOST ANYONE.” ON A VISIT TO AUSTRALIA [LATER, IN 2005] CHARLES BOUGHT TBI FROM MELBOURNE VENDOR PAUL F.