The annual Big Issue Calendar is being launched today by street vendors around the country.
As well as the usual uproarious cartoons from Andrew Weldon, the new look calendar – with bigger pages and higher quality paper stock – features photographs of vendors with their loveable pets.
The Big Issue wanted to highlight the special relationships that so many members of our community have with their animal friends, as well as the great benefits that a pet can bring to the homeless and disadvantaged.
Animal Welfare League Australia has completed studies that show pets greatly improve the mental health, wellbeing and social engagement of their owners. Pets can also help develop responsible behaviour and provide unconditional affection and companionship for vulnerable people. For those who might not have much support, having a loyal animal can make a real difference.
“He’s just everything to me. I got him because I can’t live without a dog, I need the companionship,” said Susie from Perth about her dog, George, during the photoshoot for the calendar. “I’m homeless and I sleep out, so he’s like a hot water bottle. And he’ll warn me if people are coming near.”
“When all else fails with humans, he’s someone I can always cuddle,” said Cindy from Brisbane about Sunshine, her cockatiel.
One vendor, who wanted to stay anonymous, said the fact that he was able to keep his pet happy and healthy – no matter how bad things were – gave him a real sense of achievement and purpose.
The special bonds between the featured vendors and their beloved pets are evident and touching in the pages of this year’s calendar. The photographs perfectly illustrate how important pets are for people who may not have many other sources of love, comfort and companionship.
The Big Issue vendors buy the calendar for $4.50 and sell it on the street for $9, keeping the difference. This extra money, on top of the normal magazine sales, is a great boost for vendors around the Christmas and holiday period.
No animals were hurt in the making of this calendar.