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9 May 2013

Peter L

"I grew up in Kalgoorlie with my sister, but my childhood was not a normal one. My dad was very violent and, even though I was just young, I tried to stop him hitting my mum, many times. I ran away from home but the police brought me back. 

My parents were always fighting and eventually the authorities came in and my sister and I were given to foster parents. My sister went to Tasmania and I have not seen her since. I went to a family in Perth. They were nice people, but it is not the same as having your own family. They had two of their own children, Lisa and Karen, and I got on really well with them. 

My dad died when he was young. My mother is
still alive but she lives in Adelaide. I have not seen her for years.

I went to school at South Kensington High School in Victoria Park, Perth, and I was quite happy there. Not much good at reading or maths, but I did well at all kinds of sports. In fact, sport is a big part of my life now. I play soccer and have had a few games with the Big Issue Street Soccer team. Even though I live in Perth I support Melbourne Victory in the A-League. They are my team. My favourite player is Archie Thompson. 

I also like AFL and I support the Adelaide Crows. One day I would like to go over there to watch them play. I might even catch up with my mum. That would be nice.

I have a Certificate II in Horticulture and worked with [community benefit organisation] Activ doing gardening jobs around town for a while. I like gardening, but I like selling The Big Issue more. It lets me meet new people and I like being able to work the hours I want rather than a set routine. I got to hear about The Big Issue through my flatmate, Damien, who said I should give it a go. Damien sold The Big Issue, too, but is no longer with us – he died a few years back. This makes me sad; he was a good guy.

I have been selling the magazine for about five years now. It gives me a bit of extra cash. I bought an Xbox last year and I can now play with people all over the place. The Big Issue has helped with this and also with my general confidence. I can speak to people in the street now. At first I was quite shy, but David from [community support service] My Place helps me out and takes me to my pitch in the city.

I will continue to sell The Big Issue but, if I could save enough money, one day I’d like to travel to the United States."

Interview by Jim Petrie/photograph by Ross Swanborough
Peter sells The Big Issue in Hay Street, Perth