1 May 2017

Grant, Canberra

Photograph by Sean Davey

I started selling The Big Issue nine-and-a-half years ago when I was 21 years of age.
I was doing nothing all the time and it was frustrating. I have a rare disorder and it causes me to have lots of problems – health issues and problems understanding some things now and again, stress...

I was feeling lonely and not going anywhere. I was looking for work, looking for anything and I came across the magazine. I was nervous about selling at first. It was difficult for the first six months – you have to get people to get to know you, you have to get to know them and then you go from there.

These days, I am a workaholic! I work on five pitches around Canberra – Woden, Weston Creek, Kippax, Belconnen and Gungahlin. I like meeting new people and getting new customers. I have one customer I have known for the past nine-and-a-half years who goes shopping with her kids. I have watched the kids growing up since they were very small.

It’s been almost one year since I stopped gambling and I am saving money from selling The Big Issue now. That makes me happy. I like to tell my customers that I’ve stopped gambling and how I spend my money. It makes them happy and they come back to me next time.

The Big Issue is a big part of my life. It makes me feel like part of the community. I sell five or six days a week except on Tuesdays, when I study for my Certificate I in Technology at the Canberra Institute of Technology. It’s flexible learning and I have nearly completed one semester studying two-and-a-half hours a week.

I don’t really talk to the class. I just go there to study – I am not there to get distracted. Since leaving school in Year 10, it’s the first bit of study I have done because of my gambling habits. Apart from studying, I like to go bowling with the Wizards [a sporting group for people with a disability].

Eventually I am looking forward to moving on to something bigger. Next year, I’ll study Certificate II and III in Technology and then hopefully a diploma in designing apps and video games the year after. One day I hope to work for myself and then I can make more money and have enough for my retirement at 50 or 60.

The best thing about selling The Big Issue is that you get to meet lots of politicians and lots of people from the community. With the recent ACT elections, people mistook me for a politician. People were walking past and saying to me, ‘No I am not voting for you’ and I would say, ‘But I am selling The Big Issue!’

I have no plans to leave Canberra. Apart from getting mistaken for politicians, I love it here.

This article first appeared in Ed#526 of The Big Issue.

Interview by Deborah Crowe
Grant sells The Big Issue at various locations around Canberra.