‘Kindness goes a long way’: Greek and Cypriot voices behind The Big Issue’s 25th anniversary

The Australian edition of The Big Issue recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

For a quarter of a century, the non-profit magazine known for its slogan “we help people help themselves” has provided employment opportunities for disadvantaged and homeless people.

Since it was first sold down the stairs of Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station on June 16, 1996, the organization has spread across the country with over 7,000 vendors working to distribute the magazine every fifteen days to a readership of over 250,000 people per year.

Vendor Con: “It makes me happy to work”

Con, has been selling The Big Issue at Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne for over 15 years.

“I come from Greece, Cyprus. I came here with my family before the war in 1964. It makes me happy to work. I’m selling The Big Issue for something to do and to earn extra money for food and the doctor, ”he said. The Greek Herald.

Due to the lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and ACT suppliers like Con have not been able to sell for a few months now and have missed the income and their connection to the community.

“I understand that we have to stay home to be safe, but I don’t like the empty city. There is no one walking the streets. I miss the presence of my clients, ”said Con.

Some of Con’s clients have been buying the magazine from him for years.

“I have many clients of all ages. On Saturdays, I have two different favorite regular customers: one brings me spaghetti, and the other brings me rice! Others offer me breakfast and give me pocket money especially at Christmas and Easter.

Anastasia Safioleas: A Greek face behind the pages

Editor-in-Chief Anastasia Safioleas is one of the people behind the scenes ensuring that the content of the post remains relevant to her readership.

Safioleas, who first joined the magazine 17 years ago, said that while The Big Issue has not been immune to the challenges posed to the media by the Covid-19 pandemic, the team editorial has worked tirelessly to navigate and help them through difficulties. in the margins.

“We created this magazine for our suppliers and our readers. It is really important to us that the sellers are able to hold the magazine with confidence. It’s about providing them with a quality product that they are proud of and that they are happy to sell, ”she said.

The editor explained that The Big Issue is “a real labor of love” and said that through its pages it strives to tell the stories of people “who generally do not have a voice in them. media ”.

Anastasia Safioleas is editor-in-chief of The Big Issue. Photo (R) with his mother

“One of the best things about The Big Issue is that we really lean on lived experience. I feel lucky to be able to help create this magazine, write about some really important issues and help some of the most vulnerable people in our country, I couldn’t ask for anything more, ”she said.

Asked about the lessons she has learned throughout her career with the organization so far, Anastasia spoke about the importance of humanity and kindness.

“Kindness especially goes a long, long way. Sometimes it’s just the simple things that make the biggest difference.

“I also learned not to judge, to keep an open mind and not to take anything for granted. Most of us are very lucky. We don’t realize that there isn’t much of a difference between us and people who sleep rough or struggle with addiction. The line is really good, ”she said.

“If you see a Big Issue vendor, go upstairs and say ‘hello’. Many of them like to chat. Even if you don’t buy the magazine, just go chat. It will make a huge difference for them, ”said Anastasia.

To learn more about The Big Issue or to support your local vendor, visit: thebigissue.org.au

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