I have been aware of the issue for years but havent really paid attention. Often it is when im focused on getting somewhere i notice or hear the big issue being advertised but i usually just keep on walking. Once or twice i have stopped long enough just to exchange money and grab a copy, and then im off again. Who are these people standing on street corners and in busy malls trying to get my attention, and whats so big that i should stop and give them any attention?
The Big Issue is an independent current affairs and entertainment magazine sold in towns and cities throughout Australia(and other parts of the world) by people experiencing homelessness and or long term unemployment. It provides an opportunity for vendors to positively change their lives by earning an income and interacting with the mainstream community. Vendors keep half the cover price of every magazine they sell.
While waiting for a tram today a guy wearing the bright big issue vest sat next to me so i decided to buy a copy of the magazine, and as he was handing it over i thought i would take it a little further and ask how things were going for him. Twenty minutes later i walked away feeling educated and privildged to hear his story. Its amazing what can happen in such a short time.
He has been selling the big issue for 2 years. Its helps him pay the rent and empowers him to keep moving forward. I cant remember his name but i remember his story. He loves interacting with his regular customers, spends time reading the magazine cover to cover as it helps him to remember where he has been and where he wants to go and he has big dreams. He laughed as he shared with me his stories of other vendors who are real charecters and the kind of people that he meets. Once he was a carpenter and had his own business and he lost everything…he has been saving to make a comeback. I was impressed and it certianly has challenged the way i will see and treat all vendors of the big issue
The BIG ISSUE is that it is easy to walk through the day and forget that there are others who are sharing our space, people with stories, indaviduals who are trying to make ends meet, families who are oppressed and the list goes on. Its nice to know that those who sell this magazine will make money, but its not just about the cash as it also gives them a purpose. I think that when we slow down and take the time to hear other peoples stories its another way of investing in them, and thats worth more than a couple of dollars
Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction—-John f. Kennedy