La Farola is one of Spain’s answers to the UK’s Big Issue – a magazine sold by the homeless to help them get off the streets. From the two Euro cover price, €1.20 goes to the seller and €0.80 to cover editorial, printing and distribution costs. Content covers youth culture, social issues, health, the latest films etc… This is all very well in practice but as far as I can tell it isn’t working in Madrid. Why?
1. The vendors usually have various different editions of the magazine. This makes it hard to decide whether the magazine is ‘current’ or follows a set publishing schedule.
2. Vendors seem reluctant to actually hand them over once you’ve given them some money – ‘you want the magazine?’ This makes sense – they can ‘sell’ each copy twice over, but gives the impression that the content isn’t very good (it’s not bad).
3. The Spanish attitude is not helpful. The photo above, of a young Sudanese seller, was taken outside our local supermarket. As I approached, an old lady walked past, glanced at the man and his paper, and said, ‘Ponte a trabajar, majo’, get a job instead, mate.
Is that the general attitude of the Spanish to the homeless? I suspect it is common at least.
Have you seen La Farola on sale anywhere else in Spain? There is no website, the publisher ‘Georges Mathis’ resides in Italy, and the only reference I can find to the magazine on-line is from a four-year-old article in El Pais that claims “La ONG Alicante Acoge responsabiliza al periódico de Mathis de traer rumanos ilegales a España” – the paper is blamed by an NGO in Alicante for bringing illegal Romanian immigrants to Spain. I’ve e-mailed a copy of this post to firstname.lastname@example.org (the contact details in the paper), to see if whoever is at the other end can shed any light on this puzzling publication.
Update: the e-mail never got through, a ‘message delivery failed: mailbox unavailable’ message was returned instead.