Friday, May 11, 2007

International Network of Street Papers, A Success Story

UN 2007 Annual Ministerial Review Innovation Fair
“Strengthening efforts for the eradication of poverty and hunger, through global partnerships for development”

Success story from the International Network of Street Papers (INSP)

– International Network of Street Papers ‘Working with Poverty Solutions’

The International Network of Street Papers (INSP) actively encourages and supports the setting up of Street Papers worldwide to create opportunities for people who have been disenfranchised and are living in poverty. Street papers provide employment opportunities and social programmes for some of the most marginalised people in earth.

INSP was set up in 1994 and has developed from a network of 5 European street papers into a worldwide anti-poverty network on 6 continents. INSP acts as an umbrella organisation to exchange information and experience between over 80 street papers in 30 countries around the world. INSP offers advice, expertise, encouragement, research and training through its worldwide communications networks, conferences, newsletters and campaigning initiatives.

- Street papers: ‘From Poverty to Independence’

Street papers have a philosophy of a ‘hand up, not a hand out’. People living in poverty buy the street paper from the organisation usually at 40-50% of the cover price, selling it on to their readers for 100%, keeping the profit. All post-investment profits generated by the street papers are used to provide social support for homeless people.
Each street paper adapts to country specific situations to tackle poverty at a local level. Most street papers are supported by a mixture of businesses, local government and institutions, and most importantly, by local people.

INSP and the Millennium Development Goals
- General

The International Network of Street Papers works towards the Millennium Development Goal 1 to ‘Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day’ and Goal 8 to ‘Develop a global partnership for development’.
INSP has assisted tens of thousands of vulnerable people since 1994, working at the grassroots level and complementing NGOs and other bodies, but also working uniquely within its own ‘niche’ as an umbrella organisation.
Social exclusion and poverty are not just the responsibility of the local level, but they also play a part in the macro-dynamics of a global condition. At a time when the gap between the rich and the poor is growing, INSP also aims to provide an international platform for lobbying on behalf of some of the most marginalised people in society.

- Street papers: An innovation in itself
Street papers can be successful in any urban area in the world where there is both poverty and a critical mass of socially conscious people with disposable income willing and able to purchase a street paper.
Street paper initiatives usually start out at the grassroots level with local individuals or organisations working with vulnerable people. Using INSP’s vast experience of member projects, INSP provides information, advice and training to strengthen the institutional capacity of the fledgling street paper at the micro and macro level:
- Local street paper staff are trained in all aspects of street paper development.
- Homeless and long-term unemployed adults are trained in street paper sales and communication.
- Links are made at the local, national and international level with individuals, businesses, NGOs, government offices, funding bodies and other organizations able to compliment and support the work of the street paper.
The premise is that anywhere in the world a poor person willing and able to sell a street paper can earn more than dollar a day from sales, thereby contributing to the Millennium Development Goal 1 to ‘reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day’.

Poor people who sell the street paper earn a decent income to support their families. They are free to use that income any way they want, including buying food for their dependents. With some vendors in developing countries supporting, on average, 7 dependents, INSP is also contributing to the second part of the Millennium Development Goal 1 to ‘reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger’. Tens of thousands of people, including children, are the secondary beneficiaries of INSP’s street paper work around the world.

- INSP: Innovative initiatives in global development
The International Network of Street Papers works towards the Millennium Development Goal 8 to ‘develop a global partnership for development’ in a number of ways.
1) INSP represents a powerful international social media movement, with a combined annual circulation of approximately 26 million copies. Through its innovative online social news agency, the Street News Service ( INSP collates and distributes quality homeless, social and human rights articles and photographs globally, developing itself as the world’s number one ‘fair’ media service.
2) As a global network in INSP is also a member of policy-influencing organisations such as the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), FEANTSA (European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless), the US National Coalition for the Homeless, CIVICUS (World Alliance for Citizen Participation) and the UN. Membership of these organisations allows INSP to play a key role in influencing policies which may impact on street papers and their vendors.
3) Within the Millennium Development Goal 8, the aim is to ‘address the special needs of the least developed countries, landlocked and small island developing states’. INSP’s priority focus for 2006 and 2007 has been to develop new street papers and income-generating opportunities in Africa. As a result, several street papers have been established in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Zambia, with more planned in Nigeria, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Hundreds of poor African people are directly earning a decent income from INSP’s efforts, and thousands more of their dependents are also benefiting. Each project works closely with other local organisations providing streamlined poverty reduction solutions wherever possible.
4) Within the Millenium Development Goal 8, the aim to ‘develop decent and productive work for youth in co-operation with the developing countries’. Street papers are innovative and enterprising in that they provide the necessary skills and platform to move people on to permanent full-time employment while ensuring survival in the interim period. In Africa, street papers such as Big Issue Kenya are using the enormous talent of the slum dwelling youth to sell the street paper and provide an income for their families, but they are also training them in communications and sales skills and, where possible, providing co-funding for them to gain practical skills certificates in areas such as mechanics and carpentry.

- INSP and global urban poverty

The Millennium Goal 7 ‘to ensure environmental sustainability’ also contains the sub-aim of ‘By 2020 to have achieved a significant improvement’ in the lives of at least 100 million slums dwellers’. Although this is classed under an ‘environmental goal’ the ability of a slum dweller to earn money and spend that on water and sanitation improvements means that INSP’s street paper work in the slums of Africa is also contributing to this MDG.

The International Network of Street Papers and the future
In 2007, for the first time in history, the majority of people on the planet will live in urban areas. Many will be poor, unemployed, and disenfranchised. INSP’s innovative street paper initiatives will be in demand for a while yet, and it is our aim to support as many poor and disenfranchised people through employment while this is still the case.
INSP’s work will continue with establishing new and supporting existing street papers in the Southern hemisphere, especially Africa and Latin America.

Contact details:
International Network of Street Papers (INSP)
c/o SVCO
Floor 3, Centrum Building
38 Queen Street
G1 3DX
Tel: +44 (0)141 225 8036
Fax: +44 (0)141 248 8066

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