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Cafe Art founders named in top 2023 Changemakers by The Big Issue

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

The Big Issue is featuring Cafe Art's founders and 98 other organisations and individuals who have made a difference to homelessness.

Other sections awarding Changemakers include Cost of living crisis, education, employment, environment, equality, health and welbeing and refugees and asylum.

The Big Issue has been the UK’s leading street newspaper since 1990 and employs people who are affected by homelessness who sell the weekly magazine for £4, keeping £2 of the price. The concept is exactly the same as how we sell the MyLondon calendar in the markets for £12 (and the vendors keep £6).

“Paul Ryan and Michael Wong, Cafe Art” are named as Top 100 Changemakers in the Housing and Homelessness section.

The article says: “Art can be an outlet for expression, creation and connection. This is something Michael Wong and Paul Ryan know all too well, and is the driving ethos behind their social enterprise, Café Art. Café Art aims to empower those experiencing homelessness, or who have recently been homeless. They give out 100 disposable cameras to 100 people, who are given seven days to capture London through their eyes.

“A selection of the images produced are then used to create calendars, with proceeds going back to the artists. They also provide opportunities for artists with lived experience of homelessness to have their work displayed and enjoyed by audiences, while creating opportunities for them to generate a meaningful income through sales.”

Of course we could not make change without our supporters for which we are grateful. The 2023 MyLondon calendar is still selling in markets and stations and it could not have been printed without the online buyers funding it by buying it.

Big Issue editor Paul McNamee explains why they choose 100 changemakers every year, and why they feel it's so important:

"Every year we celebrate those who are making things better. This sounds like an incredibly obvious thing to do. It is. But it doesn't always happen. In this time of untethering, when certainties are ever more loosened, the acknowledgement feels vital.

"We explain The Big Issue 100 Changemakers like this: it's a celebration of the people and organisations who have focused, not on themselves, but on making things better for all of us. Selfless, frequently unheralded (though sometimes a little better known) they have noticed something that needs done, that which lifts others else before themselves, and rather than wait and moan, they do it. They can lead us into the new year.

"Our changemakers range from teachers who quietly started a foodbank in their school (teachers should not need to start a foodbank in their school) to a man on the frontline in Ukraine risking his life to help the devastated. There are many in-between.

"The ongoing period of confusion and flux has taught us that we cannot rely on top-down change. Leaders are not leading. There is no bright plan. But life need not be nasty, brutish and short. Around us there are people in our communities, grassroots grafters and fearless figureheads, who aspire to more for all.

"To those creators, the agitators, the doers and the thinkers, to those doing their best, we celebrate and thank you all."

The Big Issue have asked us to create two short videos 10 seconds long to add to a compilation video they are making so please look out of this in the coming weeks. One video will ask us what we pan for this year (we will mention MyWorld) and the second one is about what we do in action, so we shot a few seconds at Spitalfields Market yesterday of a vendor selling the calendar.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

Paul and Michael

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