The Big Issue celebrates 20th anniversary

Long-time The Big Issue vendor Bill .Pictures: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au   d453813
Long-time The Big Issue vendor Bill .Pictures: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au d453813

INDEPENDENT magazine The Big Issue is celebrating 20 years since the first issue hit the streets in 1996.

The Big Issue came to WA in 2002 and has changed the lives of homeless and disadvantaged residents since then.

There are now more than 60 vendors working across WA including vendors in Mt Hawthorn.

Bill (47), a vendor in Fremantle, has been with the publication since the start.

He said the anniversary was important to all vendors.

“It means a lot to all vendors Australia-wide and worldwide that The Big Issue keeps going,” Bill said.

“It has changed so many vendors’ lives from being homeless to some vendors now owning their own houses.”

Bill said he had gained many opportunities since he started the job.

“I have been in numerous situations where I have been taken to dinner by customers who have now become personal friends and involve me in their businesses,” he said.

He said he had sold magazines outside Nick’s Place Kebab Shop on South Terrace in Fremantle for two years.

“It gives me protection, support and decent food and coffee when I need it when I am working long hours, and the staff are generally kind to vendors as a whole,” he said.

“A lot of other businesses do the same, the Fremantle council is very supportive of The Big Issue and we are allowed to sell in just about every place in Fremantle.

One concern Bill emphasised was the “misconceptions” non-readers had of the magazine.

“I would like to see someone talk to me and not call it a left-wing or right-wing or political magazine … it likes to give a broad range of opinions about everything,” he said.

“I want to change how the magazine is perceived by the people who do not buy it.”

Bill said he always encouraged negative criticism so the magazine could make improvements.

The Big Issue special anniversary edition will be on sale on Friday, June 3.