Associated Newspapers are to start printing a rival magazine to give away for free wherever homeless people are trying to sell the Big Issue.
The new publication will be the latest in a number of free newspapers handed out at railway stations and bus terminals across Britain’s major cities which have made a major dent in the sales of established newspapers over recent years. The only vendors who to date have not had to go head to head with the free-sheets have been homeless people trying to make a few extra pence by selling the magazine produced especially to help them get back into mainstream society. This is now set to change with the production of ‘The Little Issue’ a cheaply produced free listings magazine which will containing celebrity gossip alongside shocking exposes of how the London homeless actually have large second homes in the Home Counties.
‘All credit to the tramps for identifying a gap in the market’ said Paul Dacre of Associated Newspapers, that already produces Metro and London Lite. ‘But we think we could exploit this sector more fully by giving our magazine away. Our vendors won’t actually be homeless, although we might give them a mongrel on a bit of string or something.’
The pilot issue contained articles claiming that most of Britain’s homeless were making thousands of pounds a week as part of a criminal network organised by a Serbian gang-master, but also included homeless lifestyle features such as ‘A Cardboard Box of My Own’ and a wine section featuring a review of B&Q’s own brand Methylated Spirit. The finance section explains that the best place to beg is sitting next to a cashpoint machine, because people find it really embarrassing that they have so much cash.
‘But essentially this magazine is produced by people with comfortable homes, for people who live in comfortable homes, in order to make themselves feel smug that they are not sleeping out on the streets. And frankly we’re pretty confident that we are going to blow that tatty charity rag right out of the water.’
The first Little Issue also includes a free A3 wall chart of all the other free-sheets littering Britain’s big cities. ‘It’s not just for sticking on your wall,’ said Paul Dacre. ‘It’s also folds out into a flimsy blanket for when the homeless haven’t raised enough to spend the night in a hostel.’