Vendor Profile: Rachel
I have only been a vendor for one year, but a lot has changed since the first day I walked into The Big Issue office in Redfern. Before that day I was sick of everything. I couldn’t deal emotionally or physically with the pain I was going through. I had just escaped an unhealthy relationship that left me homeless, and had been suffering from a string of health issues. I had isolated myself from my children because I really didn’t think that their life would be worse not having me in it. I just wanted to die.
I never thought I would feel that way. I was born in Adelaide and I really enjoyed my younger years; I had a normal schooling and really enjoyed playing netball. I grew up in the same house to the age of 12. But things had changed a lot since then. I was in a shelter, didn’t know where I was going to be from week to week. Every day was a fight, inside and out, and I just didn’t want to fight any more.
Then I met a Big Issue vendor named Scott. I didn’t think I needed help, but he must have known that I needed to talk. I didn’t think I belonged at The Big Issue, but soon after walking into the office I realised I didn’t have to fight any more and I could actually do more than just survive. It helped me to see that maybe I have got a little bit to offer, that in a while I could become less of a burden to those I love and society in general.
For me The Big Issue has been a life buoy. I got involved in its other programs. If you had told me a year ago that I would be sitting down sharing my story with school groups for The Big Issue Classroom and hopefully helping to break down the barriers, I would have laughed and said, ‘No way’. But I’m really grateful for being a part of it. I’ve only just started going to Street Soccer but the soccer people are really nice. I have also been a part of The Big Issue National Sales Challenge, which is a lot of fun.
It has also helped me build up the guts to go to university – I never thought I would go. I’m studying a Bachelor of Art and Entertainment Management at AIM. I even passed my first semester. I hope one day to become a tour manager, because music has been a big part of my life – at my darkest, darkest days it has helped me see that I am not alone. But they are never going to get rid of me at The Big Issue! Even if I become the best tour manager, I’ll still volunteer.
I used to say to my children, before they went to school every day, ‘Go out and be a shining star. Show your worth and be yourself.’ For a lot of years I lost that, and I’d just like to say thank you to all The Big Issue readers and The Big Issue itself because you brought my shine back.
Rachel sells The Big Issue at cnr Pyrmont Bridge Rd & Union St, Sydney.
interview by Sam Clark photograph by Peter Holcroft
This article was first published in Ed#516 of The Big Issue.