Yesterday we learned that Apple is a religious experience, now the head of one of the UK’s biggest homeless self-help organizations wants to spread the new iSalvation as he moves to create an innovative street level news organization using iPhones.
This unique move will see homeless and near homeless street newspaper sellers given iPhone (5’s) by the head of the organization with which they’ll be asked to take pictures, videos and notes of what’s happening around them in order to send them back to the news room.
That’s what’s coming to Big Issue sellers in the UK. The Big Issue is a UK institution, founded by John Bird the principle is extremely simple: homeless or near homeless people can visit the magazine’s headquarters to buy a pile of the titles to sell on the street. They get to keep a half the £2 cover price.
The organization in turn ploughs the cash it makes back in the form of a string of homeless aid and recovery projects.
Speaking about The Big Issue’s new digital strategy, Bird said: “Big Issue vendors stand on streets up and down the country come rain or shine, hence they are uniquely connected to their local area. We want them to become the eyes and ears of their neighbourhoods, offering a unique perspective and simultaneously developing the skills which will get them off the streets.”
The idea is that by using their iPhones to gather news and information, disadvantaged people will get to participate in their local communities, and will learn new skills which could be of benefit to their future lives.
For example, they’ll be encouraged to write blogs, use Twitter and Facebook and generally get involved in the digital world. The content they return to Big issue headquarters will be used on the publication’s website.
The chance to engage in wider society can’t be dismissed as trivial. The idea of the magazine is that because vendors earn cash as they sell the mags, they also gain self-reliance and — so important to anyone enduring homelessness and associated emotional distress — self-respect. Getting a conventional job is insanely difficult if you’re also dealing with homelessness.
I think this is a wonderful idea. I’m looking forward to reading the news off of the UK’s streets.