Vendor Profile: Kerry

20 February 2015 Peter Ascot

Vendor Profile: Kerry

Photograph by Nat Rogers

Peter Ascot, Ed#477, February 2015

"I’m the third oldest in my family, with four brothers and three sisters, but I was born with ‘fluid in my head’ and my mum couldn’t look after me. Didn’t have the money to, either. She moved around a lot and didn’t really settle anywhere. I was in foster care most of my life, since I was a baby, and was in and out of hospital having operations till I was 16 years old.

Foster care was okay, they took me on holidays, but I was moved from place to place because they couldn’t look after me. I did run away from some of them as well. There were heaps; too many.

I have a learning disability, and no one really helped me out. School was difficult. I was struggling and was getting picked on. I didn’t like English but I was good at maths, really knew my times tables. I still can’t read, not as much as other people. I was good at netball, basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming – but I’ve got a really weak ankle now.

After school I went to adult education. I also volunteered at childcare places – I like working with children. I met a guy who I was with for four years and left my home, which I still regret to this day. I’ve got two boys, aged four and three, and I’m getting help to see them. My ex won’t let me see them, so I’m getting legal help.

I worked for Orana [an employment provider] packing golf balls before coming to The Big Issue in 2013. My regular spots are Haigh’s, James Place and Adelaide Arcade, all near Rundle Mall. I have a couple of regular customers and hope to get more. The Big Issue has helped me learn how to exchange and count money, and the staff are really helpful.

I usually start selling at 8.30am, spend eight hours there Tuesday to Friday. I sit on a walker because of my back: since my operation I’ve had a really bad sore back. Even at home I have to sit down to do the dishes. I have asthma, too – depends on the weather, it mucks up when it’s cold or really hot. And I could faint or collapse in summer, so I have to have my asthma puffer on me at all times.

On the weekends I relax, help around the house, and like to watch movies on TV. I’m a Port Power [AFL] fan, but I’ll go for the Adelaide Crows when Port is not playing. I live with a nice lady who cooks and does the washing; all we have to do is keep our rooms clean and go to work. There are about six of us there, in a nice quiet area. I like to help around the house, watch films, listen to music, go out. My boyfriend visits me on the weekend sometimes as well.

Selling the magazine gets me out of the house, out meeting other people, helping them out. If they need to know where to go I can give directions. I save the money I earn for a holiday to Port Lincoln. I’ll be with The Big Issue for a while."

Kerry sells The Big Issue in Rundle Mall, Adelaide.

» Interview by Peter Ascot, The Big Issue's Vendor Profile Editor.

This piece was first published in Ed#477.