The Big Issue is being sold on the streets once again. Image by Daniel Pockett/AAP PHOTOS

Health

The Big Issue mag returns to the streets

2020-06-30 14:27:56

After months of uncertainty about the future of their roles, vendors of The Big Issue are back on the streets, selling the magazine.

On Monday vendors returned to locations in Australia’s cities and suburbs with coronavirus-safe measures in place.

Having undergone COVID-19 safety training, sellers will be equipped with digital payment devices, magazine display boxes, hand sanitiser and social distancing signage.

The Big Issue chief executive officer Steven Persson said it was a significant moment for the magazine.

“There was just absolute glee and excitement this morning,” Mr Persson told AAP.

The Big Issue suspended street selling and moved online in March when strict coronavirus lockdown measures were put in place.

The magazine has been supporting those experiencing homelessness and disadvantage for 24 years and a big part of that is giving them jobs as vendors.

Mr Persson said vendors have been concerned about the publication’s survival and the welfare of their colleagues, so going back to work was a huge relief after a difficult few months.

“The Big Issue provides an income for those people but it also provides them with an identity, and that identity is being part of a successful business that they can proudly talk about, so there is an overwhelming sense of relief and excitement,” he said.

The return of the physical magazine will be a bumper ‘welcome back’ addition and available at the usual price of $9.

Mr Persson said the support for vendors from the wider community had been instrumental in them returning to work.

“When I was walking the streets there were people who were chatting to our vendors at a safe distance, only taking a couple of minutes and buying the magazine, but also saying, ‘hey, how are you doing, are you OK?'” he said. 

“It’s a real collective care. There are people within our community that really do look out and care for others, and in particular, our vendors.”