Nový Prostor, a Czech street magazine recently saw the publication of its jubilee 500th issue. For more than 15 years, the Czech equivalent of Britain’s The Big Issue, has given sellers, who are homeless, an employment opportunity, a voice and a chance to re-connect with broader society.
The sale of Nový Prostor at areas in Prague and several other Czech cities, outside metro stations, supermarkets and other venues, has long been a common sight. The magazine is supported by both casual buyers and return customers. Initially named Patron, Nový Prostor began publication in 1999. Many buyers consider it an opportunity to support fellow citizens who have faced insurmountable difficulties that saw them end up on the street, struggling to get by. Alena is a vendor in the Czech capital trying to rebuild something like a regular life.
“I sell the magazine because I had a lot of problems – both social and health. I live in a boarding house. I suffer from diabetes and from leukaemia, for which I am being treated for free. No one will give me a job. My hope is that I can save enough and find a small place to live with my two dogs, which are my reason for staying alive.”
Like others who sell Nový Prostor, Alena attempts to positively engage passersby. Sellers all have a regular space, in her case near Prague’s Muzeum metro. Some passersby purchase the magazine with Alena pointing out that out the latest issue is special. The reason? It is the magazine’s 500th. The magazine’s editor, Jan Štepánek, tells Radio Prague the latest edition is full of original content which sets it apart.
“Number 500 is a big deal for us so we decided to celebrate with a special ‘jubilee’ edition – one focusing wholly on the Czech Republic. We asked current authors to write stories about the country and we commissioned our illustrators to work on them.
“We also wanted to help our sellers and raised funds to push down the regular cost. Normally, sellers buy single issues for 25 crowns and sell them for 50. In this case, we were able to push down the price to 15 crowns, thereby increasing their profit.”
Around 150 – 160 people in the Czech Republic sell Nový Prostor; the current concept is to provide quality journalism on subjects which the editor-in-chief says might otherwise be ignored. Currently, around 15,000 issues of the bi-monthly are sold every fortnight. If interested, July 17 is the final day to purchase the milestone 500th issue if you haven’t yet.