Boost for at-risk women
FOLLOWING four years of being homeless, a The Big Issue employee says the newly launched Women’s Subscription Enterprise is a “dream come true” and a confidence booster.
Former street vendor Susie Madsen (55) was among seven out of nine new employees of the inaugural Women’s Subscription Enterprise who participated in their first shift on November 22.
WA is the fourth state in Australia to launch the program, which is an employment alternative for women who felt vulnerable as street vendors.
The women would instead package The Big Issue for subscribers in a secure environment.
Ms Madsen said it was a “real privilege” to be employed by the nationwide magazine. “It is a step up into employment, it is a step up to what I was doing on the streets selling The Big Issue in the environment that I was in, (which) could be scary at times,” she said.
“After four years of homelessness, it is all new for me, so this is a whole new start.
“Financially, it will help a lot but learning the new skills as well and just getting some confidence of being with other people and working together.”
Ms Madsen said she was excited to meet and work with new people during their monthly shifts.
“It is really challenging too because we are all from different cultures, so we are learning different things about each other,” she said.
“Some of the girls do not speak English very well, so they are learning how to speak English.
“I would like to pick up more work with The Big Issue’s subscription enterprise; that is my goal because I love The Big Issue.
Ms Madsen said being employed and gaining housing was a “good step forward”.
“It is a massive change; it takes a while to get your confidence back again,” she said.
The Big Issue chief executive Steven Persson said many women employed through the program had made remarkable changes in their lives.
The Women’s Subscription Enterprise has employed more than 130 women in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide since it launched in 2010.
Susie Madsen feels safer.