This week The Big Issue has turned its attention to running the rule over the state of schools – but one teacher has flipped the script to use the magazine as a teaching tool.
Sharon Godfrey purchased scores of magazines to introduce her classes at Newton Abbot College in Devon to The Big Issue and homelessness. Kids from years seven to 12 swapped textbooks for the mag and used it to inspire spoken word and dramatic performances that delved into issues associated with life on the streets, including monologues exploring PTSD and mental health issues, as well as addiction.
“We worked quite hard right across my own group and across the campus as a whole,” says Sharon. “We did a body of work on homelessness because that is something that I am very passionate about. The pupils all produced pieces on homelessness so we can break the myth and perception.”
The project did not limit itself to dismantling poverty within the school walls. The children also raised £70 and donated cans of food to their local foodbank as well as making further offerings to homelessness charity St Petrock’s and a local youth centre.“I think that a lot of the kids’ perceptions of homelessness changed and they were very engaged by the issue,” says Sharon. “I wanted to get the message out that The Big Issue is a great read and not just something you buy to help people.
“I then allowed the children to take home The Big Issues that I bought so that they could see for themselves. The kids were amazing and they were really invested in the issue.
Education can also be a stimulus that is crucial to help vendors lift themselves out of poverty.