22 February 2013

Lifeline for homeless in Greece: street paper launches in Athens

Shedia's first edition will be launched
in Athens on 27 February 2013.
The newest street paper in the INSP network will launch in Greece next week. The paper, called Shedia (‘Raft’) will be sold in Athens by homeless and unemployed people living in poverty.

Shedia will be the 122nd street paper to join the International Network of Street Papers (INSP), with Greece bringing the country total up to 41.

Citizens of the recession-struck Greek capital have already embraced what they call their own ‘Greek Big Issue’. The street paper concept is known to many in Greece because of its sister publication The Big Issue in Australia, home to a large Greek community.

Ahead of the launch on Wednesday 27th February Shedia has already recruited over 70 vendors, including men and women of all ages, and expects to sign up many more once it hits the streets.

Shedia aims to be a ‘journalistic magazine with clear social characteristics and independent writing’. Vendors buy the magazine for € 1.50 and sell it to the public for € 3, keeping the proceeds. The magazine will come out on the last Wednesday of every month.

When new vendors sign up, they receive an official vest and name badge, as well as ten free copies. With the profits made from their first sales vendors can invest in more stock, effectively starting their own micro-business.

Apart from providing vendors with an opportunity to earn a dignified living, Shedia also plans to offer its vendors other support services, including access to medical and legal help.

Chris Alefantis, founder of Shedia said: “It has been a long and difficult journey for all of us in Greece. It still is. Following years of preparations, the country's only street paper is about to be launched. Fighting poverty and social exclusion is at the forefront of our campaign, particularly considering the desperate economic hardship that Greece and its people are currently faced with.”

“INSP’s support has been invaluable to us. Being able to draw from the network's knowledge and experience has truly helped in us preparing as well as possible for the challenges we have faced so far and for the challenges that lie ahead. We have made dear new friends who share our ethos worldwide. We received support from colleague street papers from Britain to Serbia and from Canada to Japan and many more. Together we can make a difference. INSP and its members prove just that.”

Lisa Maclean, INSP Executive Director said: “One of INSP’s important functions is to help support the development of new street papers. The launch of Shedia is a significant development in our international

street paper network as it will offer crucial employment and support to some of Greece’s most vulnerable people- many of whom have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own.”

“We look forward to working closely with Shedia in the coming months and providing support to them and their vendors where we can.”