South Africa’s The Big Issue magazine has won an international award that recognises the contribution the Cape Town-based magazine has made to the global street paper movement.
The International Street Paper Awards, held in Germany, saw The Big Issue South Africa honoured for its ‘Outstanding Contribution to the International Street Paper Movement’, an honour that had Cape Town’s mayor, Patricia de Lille, congratulating the magazine.
“The Big Issue has become a part of the fabric of Cape Town and plays an invaluable role in providing a legitimate form of employment to a large number of previously destitute people. This international recognition is reflective of the excellence of the publication and the contribution The Big Issue makes to the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our city. I hope that, in these difficult socio-economic times, this award helps ensure that The Big Issue remains an integral part of our city,” De Lille said.
The award was presented by the International Network of Street Papers (INSP), which unites 122 street publications in 41 countries. INSP executive director, Lisa Maclean, said on the night of the awards ceremony, “This award is presented to a publication that not only inspires change in their own city or country, but also works to support the network as a whole.” She said that since its launch in 1996, vendors of The Big Issue South Africa had earned close to R20-million.
“Their innovative approach has seen them embrace digital technology and design tailored support packages for their vendor group,” Maclean said. “With the highest proportion of female vendors in the INSP network, The Big Issue South Africa works to ensure that women have equal access to services and resources.”
The organisation’s crèche subsidies, sensitivity training for staff around women’s fears, issues and needs, and access to health education were highlighted. The Big Issue South Africa managing director, Trudy Vlok, was also recognised for her contribution to the INSP Board of Directors as Vice-Chairperson and Treasurer since 2009.
“We are delighted to recognise the valuable contribution of The Big Issue South Africa,” the award citation read. “Launched in 1996 it is the oldest and most successful street paper in Africa and leads the way for sustainable street paper enterprise on the continent,” said Maclean.