Big welcome for Big Issue
THE Big Issue homeless magazine has found a new home in Ipswich.
Mayor Paul Pisasale teamed up with vendor Ernie Vascotto yesterday morning to make the first official Ipswich sales of the national street magazine.
The fortnightly magazine is sold for $5 by homeless vendors who buy copies direct for $2.50 and pocket the difference.
Mr Vascotto is one of eight vendors who have signed up to work the Ipswich round, which is made up of three sites - the railway station, the Brisbane and Bell St intersection near ANZ and the top of the Ipswich City Mall.
He sold the magazine in Brisbane for about three years before moving to a patch closer to his Ipswich boarding home a few months ago.
"It's all right here, I work the railway station and outside Busy Beat sometimes, and I talk to everyone who's hopping on and off the train," Mr Vascotto said.
The Big Issue national operations manager Sally Hines said Ipswich was the first town in Queensland besides Brisbane to sell the magazine.
"There's definitely a demand in Ipswich, we've had a couple of vendors out here before and the response was good," Ms Hines said.
"Now we have a lot more vendors on board and Ipswich has its own distribution centre, the Red Cross Employment Services centre on Wharf St.
"Some people, like Ernie, used to travel into Brisbane to sell the magazine and now it's a lot closer for them."
Ms Hines said the expansion followed the success of The Big Issue in Brisbane, where 60 vendors sold about 4000 copies each fortnight.
Cr Pisasale said it was a great opportunity for the Ipswich's homeless and disadvantaged.
"Social enterprise is just fantastic, the key thing is that it's very difficult to go from being unemployed to having a job, and this means that now you can go be a Big Issue seller and then move on to a job," Cr Pisasale said.
While vendors in Brisbane have faced problems in the past, Ipswich traders and passers-by seemed to support the launch.
Nicholas Street News manager Tony Wright said he was happy to see something positive happening in the mall.
"It doesn't worry me, I'm quite happy with having a couple of people around," Mr Wright said.
Ms Hines welcomed more homeless people to become vendors and said they should phone 30364420 to register.