Editorial: Growing The Cake

19 June 2017 Amy Hetherington

Editorial: Growing The Cake

The Big Issue has well and truly come of age – we’re 21 today! At the centre of our special birthday edition are our vendors, the 6500 men and women who have sold more than 11 million copies of our magazine on the streets of Australia since we launched in 1996. This celebration is all about them.

You might’ve noticed we’ve packed a piñata on the cover, but who should we invite to join in our celebration coverage? After all, we wouldn’t have reached this major milestone without a long list of dedicated staff, supporters, volunteers and editorial contributors whose ongoing passion has meant The Big Issue organisation has grown beyond the magazine into Australia’s leading social enterprise, with the continued purpose of empowering homeless and marginalised people and alleviating poverty.

The Big Issue continues to exist thanks to the positive exchange between vendors and their customers each fortnight. For many, this connection is more than a $7 transaction, perhaps tip. For many, it’s a real human connection, one that has forged long-lasting friendships and seemingly plenty of laughs. That’s why we asked our vendors to invite some of their regular customers to participate in this anniversary issue. So strong are these relationships, we have been blown away by the response. 

We’ve spoken to five vendors and their biggest supporters, and will feature more in a new column we’re yet to name (suggestions welcome!). I’ve spent the past few weeks on the phone to vendors and readers from all over the country.  Overwhelmingly, they speak about the importance of community and conversation. That a little kindness goes a long way. That a hello and a smile can change someone’s day. “We’ve all got to help each other,” says Paulette who regularly buys The Big Issue from Dundee in Sydney. These friendships are the icing on the cake. Here’s to another 21 years!

Amy Hetherington, Editor

This article first appeared in Ed#539 of The Big Issue.