Street papers and Solidarity
Street papers provide support and coverage about marginalized individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty-related issues and seek to strengthen social networks within these communities. Giving marginalized individuals a voice in their community is an essential aim of street papers. So what role does the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) have when it comes to continuing this solidarity during the pandemic and how has COVID 19 altered the future of the street paper model?
We sat down with Zoe Greenfield, Operations Manager at the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) to dive into their project “Supporting marginalized people through solidarity of culture, experiences and knowledge”. And what the project means when it comes to European solidarity and how street papers have adapted to COVID 19 and life in lockdown.
INSP and European Solidarity
Zoe explained that “solidarity is fundamental to what we do as a network organization, and it’s all about the relationships. During the COVID pandemic relationships have become even more critical than they were before. In this project, there are two elements.
The first element is internal, and this is the solidarity between street papers and the role of INSP in supporting them to survive the pandemic by sharing ideas that allow them to innovate and thrive. Through this project and the solidarity of a network, you’re able to prepare more by connecting with others who are having the same experiences as you during this crisis.
The second part is external and about storytelling and the solidarity around understanding other people’s experiences during the pandemic. Through INSP street papers have access to content from different countries, so that means that they can give perspectives from other countries in their publications. This diversity in content also means that street paper readers can start to understand what is happening throughout Europe and helping people to understand the shared experience. We have been sharing stories around how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected those that are already marginalized. And a vital role that INSP plays is challenging stereotypes that these marginalized groups face by building relationships and conversations between people and the community.”
How COVID 19 affected the street paper model
During the pandemic, the street paper model has been challenged to adapt in the most challenging of circumstances. These adaptations range from re-thinking how to maintain the social interaction of selling street papers to selling hand sanitizer as a way to continue earning an income for vendors and giving the public a message that they’re taking the pandemic seriously and associating the vendors with hygiene.
Many people have asked INSP whether or not they feel positive or negative about the future of street papers and whether they will still exist after the pandemic. For Zoe, she believes that over time as the pandemic has progressed, a lot of the street papers will come out stronger. She feels positive because it has been inspiring and hopeful to see how imaginative and innovative people are with keeping street papers running. “The response people have had to this has been phenomenal. And the determination of street papers to still support their vendors when their primary income has gone has been genuinely inspiring.”
When explaining the plan of the project, Zoe stated “we plan to refine and expand what we have already started during the crisis. For us, it’s about continuing what we started to do during the pandemic but do it better. The key for us is to have the space for members to talk to each other by exchanging between countries and sharing experiences. It’s going to be very important for us to work with the street papers directly to develop case studies and gather their experiences and compile them in a way that helps others to learn and adapt.”
For European stories on COVID-19 by INSP click on the links below:
Denmark: A street paper hero in a pandemic
Grant awarded: €15,000