Monday, 18 May 2015

Memories: The Big Issue

If you have been in one of the main cities in Australia such as Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide or Melbourne.. you may have come across someone trying to sell you a magazine type newspaper labeled The Big Issue. While the magazine itself is not the most amazing thing to read and the national or international newspaper stand charging less then half the price of $6 they're asking you for is only a few meters up the road, let me encourage you to consider it next time your in town..

  • The Big Issue street sellers are people who are unable to be employed, are disadvantaged or whom are homeless. Whether it be because of mental issues, impairment, homelessness, drug addiction, disabilities, old age, brain damage or a reason not so obvious the people who sell these magazines are those struggling in society and in our city streets.
  • $6 is a lot to ask for a magazine you might flick through once but by buying this magazine your helping a person generate an income. They sell them for $6 a pop and of that $6 they pocket $3 and are able to buy more magazines for $3 each to sell again for $6. This is their only source of income. While you and I can get up, function normally, go to work to make the big bucks the sellers of The Big Issue don't have that luxury. This magazine was designed for them. 
  • Most of the people who sell The Big Issue are not drug addicts and it's highly unlikely that the money coming out of your pocket will support a drug habit. While living on the streets in Brisbane as a teenager I found that drug addicts will beg for money for a little while, (or simply steal it) before leaving the street to get their drugs and spend the rest of their day getting high. The people on the corners of our cities through rain, hail and shine for hours on end are the ones you should be giving your money to. Not the busker, not the one asking for money for a train ticket (a line I used to use daily) or those begging for money for food. Give to those out their busting their asses and who put in the effort to work the only way they know how.
  • On a street corner in Brisbane there was a man who had Cerebral Palsy (among other issues). He would spend his days selling The Big Issue for the medication he needed. The money the government provided was enough for rent (at a mens hostel which charged $220 a week for a small room consisting of a bed, a desk, a chair and a bedside table) his bills (a wheelchair debt and glasses debt), food and basic hygene costs (He had to pay to use the laundry and for things like sanitary pads which can be quite pricey) but was not enough for his medication. He would be on the streets night and day (as much as he could) and ask people to buy his magazines for his prescriptions. He was often picked on for being different and kids being kids would ask whats wrong with him. He often dribbled and most of the time he felt completely invisible and out of place. But he was there day in and day out waiting for strangers to buy his magazine so he could afford his medication. I will never forget that man.
  • Look at the person selling the magazine and try to distinguish their disability. If you think you can name their disability then I ask you to buy a magazine from them. 
  • Ask yourself if you would employ them. If your answer is no then again I ask you to buy a magazine off them.
  •  If they are in the cold, in the rain or are getting sunburned I encourage you to again buy a magazine off them (and maybe a hat, umbrella or scarf).

Last week while in the city with a friend I was reminded of the man I wrote about above when I saw a lady in a wheelchair on a street corner in Melbourne selling The Big Issue. I couldn't help but buy one for I have experienced the struggle they face on the street. I was a teenage drug addict and begged for money to support my habit and to eat. Because I have been where I've been and seen what I've seen I am all the more wiser about who I give my money to when in the city and it's DEFINITELY WITHOUT A DOUBT to these guys! Not the busker or the man asleep under the bridge. To the ones like you and I who work hard for their money.

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