Vendor Profile: Michael

6 October 2016 Peter Ascot and Jess Parker

Vendor Profile: Michael

I had a loving caring family, and was raised well with good values. I grew up just outside of Adelaide in Gawler – at that stage it felt like a country town. They have knocked down my school – there are housing developments there now!

I really liked agricultural studies, and used to be part of the Scouts and that was fun. It was challenging but I got through it.

I was born disabled, a cerebral palsy sufferer from birth. I used a frame as a child – as you get older your muscles tighten and that in turn restricts walking. It made me a stronger person,
even though it was hard not to be able to run around like the other kids. I’ve been positive since day one! 

Now I have an electric wheelchair. Having a disability hasn’t stopped me and if I want to do something I’ll go ahead and do it! I have done the 12km City to Bay Fun Run about four times, in
the Cara team.

Cara’s a disability services organisation that looks after me. For 10 years I worked on their Reference Council as a spokesperson for other clients. Last year I did a conference trip to Melbourne for them – I’m not scared of public speaking. I did packaging for 12 years with every organisation you can imagine. It was okay, better than just sitting around, but the wages are low. The Big Issue is a better job. 

I found out about The Big Issue through Steve, another vendor who is with Cara. I started here because I wanted a change. Being outside and meeting new people really appealed to me. Gives me a new outlook towards everything, and extra money is good as well. Working here has made me happier and even more confident than I already am, and I have made friends with some of the vendors.

I enjoy having the routine of coming in. I sell The Big Issue every day, including weekends, unless I want a day off. I start at eight o’clock, work till about four, get a bite to eat somewhere. I sell at the Mall, the Arcade, North Adelaide and People’s Choice
– that’s a new pitch in town. You’ve got to get a good customer base to get it going. You get this by talking to people – nicely!

Ever since I started I have been saving up for a van, by working as much as I can. I bought one in August – it can take my chair and my carers will drive me in it, instead of getting a taxi. 

I’m writing my own book at the moment, about my life. I type very slowly, so I get a volunteer to help me write it down. And I like going to the footy – go Power! I am a member and go to every game here. I used to play rugby, soccer, hockey, volleyball
and touch football.

Thank you for your support, it means a lot – you know me by name and it is just a good feeling to be out there.

Michael sells The Big Issue in North Adelaide and Adelaide CBD.

interview by Peter Ascot and Jess Parker photograph by Nat Rogers

This article first appeared in Ed#522 of The Big Issue.