Homeless people who sell The Big Issue street newspaper will soon be equipped with brand new smartphones, enabling them to go beyond being mere vendors, acting as news gatherers – just like the journalists who work for the BBC.
Vendors will be blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking and snapping digital images and audio of the action all over the country after the launch of the iPhone 5, according to John Bird, MBE, the entrepreneur who founded the Big Issue, to put the homeless back on track.
It’s all in line with latest media policy. This week the BBC announced its journalists are to be issued with smartphones – including iPhones – so that staff can send live and recorded audio, video and stills back to newsrooms from out in the field.
“The Big Issue vendors are all over our streets, selling the five editions of the magazine which cover all the regions of the UK – it makes sense to use them as the eyes and ears of the nation, on the spot, as the news happens,” said Mr Bird.
The vendors, who buy and sell the Big Issue newspaper in a scheme designed to instil self-confidence and raise self-esteem, are keen to become a potentially powerful network of online “smarties”.
Mr Bird said becoming part of the technological revolution will add a new dimension to the vendors’ efforts to turn their lives around while they fight their way back from all sorts of hardship and emotional pain. Arming the vendors with smartphones would also ensure that the Big Issue – which informs, entertains and challenges millions of readers – will establish an online presence with an immediacy and personal element to complement the high quality of its print editions.