The Big Partnership -'The Big Issue' Turns 10
20 July 2006 at 1:07 pm
Back in 1996 a fledgling corporate community partnership developed a different approach to helping the unemployed and homeless in Melbourne – ten years later The Big Issue publication is doing much, much more.
The Big Issue (TBI) organisation produces a high-quality publication every fortnight, and now has what is calls ‘vendor support programs’ up and running in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth.
Having been heavily reliant in the early years on The Body Shop for financial, business and administrative support, TBI has now broadened its network in an attempt to move towards financial sustainability and independence.
Its sources of funding now include state and local governments and a wide range of corporates, charitable trusts and foundations.
The idea of creating a magazine comes from London, where The Big Issue was set up in 1991. TBI England – which sells some 300 000 copies a week – is widely considered to be one of the great publishing success stories of recent times.
The Body Shop’s Australian CEO Graeme Wise was instrumental in setting up TBI in Melbourne and still plays a major role today.
Deputy editor, Anastasia Safioleas says however, there has been a real explosion of corporates wanting to get involved in recent years.
Safioleas says TBI has learned a lot about corporate community engagement and partnerships.
Since 1996 TBI vendors have sold more than 1.5 million magazines with some $2.25 million going into the pockets of Australia’s homeless and unemployed.
In the past year alone magazine sales have increased by 30%, with more than 150 vendors selling the magazine on a regular basis.
More recently TBI has been responsible for the bid to bring the Homeless World Cup Soccer to Melbourne in 2008.
Safioleas says a very large number of corporates eagerly helped out with funding the bid and wanting to be involved in the project.
She says from firms such as JB Were Goldman Sachs to Smorgon Steel the interest was enormous.
She says there is a win win situation for the people TBI supports and the corporates that become involved.
One example she points to is Origin Energy which has helped in particular with providing the uniforms for the magazine vendors. Internally the company’s staff has become involved and some vendors have even giving workplace talks about being homeless.
For more information on The Big Issue go to: www.bigissue.org.au.