2 August 2013

Andrew & Teri

Photograph by James Braund

TERI I was born in Carlton but I was placed straight in a children’s home, until I was two. Then I was sent to Geelong and fostered to a family, who adopted me when I turned eight. I didn’t really like them, would have preferred to have been raised by other parents, but what can you do? I haven’t seen them since Andrew and I got married when I was 19. 

I finished school at 15, then went to The Gordon [TAFE college] and studied there for a year – learning how to get different jobs and that. I worked at Safeway for a while, then in animal welfare, then I worked at a clothing factory.

I’ve had two car accidents and I’ve had a fall in town, too. You get used to the aches and pains – you have good days and bad days. We’ve got nine kids. It’s not too hard balancing the kids and the Big Issue work. The key is routine!

It took me a while to get in the swing of things with selling The Big Issue. But now, after about 12 months, I’m used to it and I’ve got some regulars. The great thing about it is that people will often stop and have a chat, even if they don’t buy a magazine. We’ve met a lot of nice people.

 

ANDREWBefore I started selling The Big Issue, I was basically doing nothing. Sitting at home watching the idiot box. I would rather be out selling The Big Issue and making a lot of friends. Teri and I usually sell six days a week between the two of us. I’m also on a carer’s pension because Teri recently had to go into a wheelchair – I need to help her do a lot of things. 

People are really friendly when they buy the mag. They’ll stay for a couple of minutes and ask how your day’s been, how the issue’s selling – it’s really important to you. 

I was born in St Albans, Melbourne. I lived with my parents until I was four or five, then I was put into a boys’ home. I was moved around several boys’ homes until I was 14. I started my first job at Windsor Smith footwear, then worked at a few different footwear companies. Also had a casual job driving a bus for pub crawls and bucks nights for a while. 

I lived on the streets from 14 until I was about 26. It wasn’t easy. You know Hoddle Street Bridge [in Melbourne]? There was a big manhole in the bridge, near the Yarra River, and I used to live under there. I would walk over to the park every day and shower in the public toilets. There were showers because they used to play football matches on that oval on Punt Road. I still managed to go to work every day.

Then I met Teri and we moved into a caravan park and we’ve been together ever since. Now we have more kids and we live in a four-bedroom house. The oldest is 17 and the youngest is 3. He’s a little terror! When we first got married, Teri’s mother basically turned around and said it wouldn’t last one day. Well, actually, it’s lasted 24 years!

 

Interview by by Sophie Quick/photograph by James Braund
Teri and Andrew sell The Big Issue at Market Square, Geelong.