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25 March 2014

Trevor

Photograph by Peter Holcroft

“I was born in Ballarat, Victoria, but my parents separated and my brother, sister and mum went to Traralgon in Gippsland [also in Victoria].

I went over to Western Australia a couple of times, then up to Queensland with my mates. I wanted to get away from my stepfather, who sexually abused me for many years. It screwed me up psychologically, and it’s taken me a long time… This happened back in the 1960s and it was all secretive then – my sister was abused by him, too. She went to the police, who brushed it off and told her to go home and be a good girl.

When I was younger I was a drug addict – it was the only way to cover up the pain. I had my first attempted suicide at nine, tried many times, but I’m thankful I’m still alive today through the blessing of Jesus. I don’t speak much about Jesus; I’d rather live the life in front of people without having to say anything.

In Queensland I met a lady and had a son, who’s 33 now. We got married back in 1986, but separated in 1993. I later had a daughter, who has just turned 19. My son is pretty busy up at the WA mines, but I stay in contact with my daughter through Facebook.

I’m a welder by trade; did it for 32 years. In 2003 I got very sick from fumes working with galvanised steel; there wasn’t enough ventilation. And I was a smoker at the time, which didn’t help either. I had to leave.

I took a backpack and hitched to Sydney, started living  on the streets. Everyone used to take care of each other…  In March 2005 I got dragged to The Big Issue office by another vendor, John M, because I was afraid to do it and didn’t think it would work for me. That was the start of a beautiful journey and relationship with The Big Issue.

I live in the Blue Mountains and sell in Katoomba now. I go to the city one day a fortnight, for the edition launch at the office, and to sell at the corner of Jamieson and George streets. That’s where I met Ellen. She’d come and buy the magazine from me and we kept up on Facebook. Eventually, in 2010, I had the gumption to ask her out and, shock of my life, she said yes! We got married in her family home in Auckland. Best time I’ve ever had.

I started selling [in Katoomba] one or two days a fortnight around 2008, because it was getting too much to travel to the city. It’s been very fruitful – local people, people who knew me from the city, tourists. I’ve started selling in Leura as well [Tuesdays and Thursdays]. I’d like to start my own business welding little things like bedheads and gates. But at the moment I have more of an interest with The Big Issue and homeless advocacy. I’ve been very happy with The Big Issue; it’s been a lifesaver.”

For support visit Lifeline 13 11 14, or beyondblue.org.au.

Interview by Peter Ascot/photograph by Peter Holcroft
Trevor sells The Big Issue in Katoomba and Leura, NSW