The Big Issue: Street Trade, Not Aid
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Chinese Proverb
If you have ever visited London, you may already be familiar with The Big Issue, a London-based street magazine sold by homeless individuals. Founded in 1991, it is considered one of the most successful street newspapers in the world, selling over 300,000 copies a week. It’s mission is to give homeless people the opportunity to earn legitimate income and help reintegrate into mainstream society. The Big Issue Foundation, the charity which coordinates The Big Issue, also offers guidance and support to vendors helping them rebuild their lives by tackling the issues that led them to the streets.
The magazine has some incredible success stories, proving that charity does not have to mean handouts, but rather empowering people so they can help themselves. The idea has spread to other countries and the magazine is now sold in Australia, Ireland, South Africa, Japan, Namibia and Kenya. With affordable housing a growing problem, I think there are more opportunities for the idea to spread to other cities.