Vendor Profile: Steve

29 May 2015 Peter Ascot

Vendor Profile: Steve

My twin brother and I were born in May 1969 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide. He emerged first because I pushed him out. Then I came out only when I was good and ready!

We were born with cerebral palsy and, after my brother and I were well enough, Mum took us home alone – my father had gone by that stage; I never met him.

I started at Woodville Spastic Centre [now part of Spastic Centres of SA – SCOSA] before moving to another school. Our teacher was called Frank and we used to give him hell and ‘run the joint’.

I went to Ashford Special School, and was given a job during this time to look after young kids, which I really enjoyed. Spent a few years there; loved all my teachers.

We had to move back closer to our grandfather, as he was being put in a home, so we lived with our grandmother up at Clare [140km north of Adelaide]. She had an obsession about bacon. There was a neighbour called Gene who was like an aunty to us. I still see her now and then.

I joined SCOSA and the Community Accommodation and Respite Agency who are still supporting me to this day – ever since 1985. Shortly after this, though, everything went downhill. My grandmother died. One of my uncles went to jail. My mum then died, four years later in 1989. She committed suicide through a drug overdose.

My brother couldn’t come to terms with the death of Mum – he had problems for many years. He moved to Melbourne in the hope of finding a partner and continued to suffer from depression. He committed suicide in 2009.

I was devastated. He was the most important person in my life, closer to me than anything. I felt very, very depressed. Very sad. I tried to do the same thing, but a support worker helped me…and became a very good friend of mine.

With support, I got my own apartment. It’s to teach people to be more independent for themselves, a great opportunity and a good choice I made. I enjoy living by myself and being independent. My carers always help me with cooking and cleaning.

A year ago I stumbled across The Big Issue and signed up. I love it and what it’s about, and am happy to share good pitches with other vendors. I like selling at the Body Shop in Rundle Mall, at Pirie St and at the City of Charles Sturt council – once an edition I visit their offices. Last year I made a profit and got a cat called Darlene – named after the Hillsong singer!

I’m still studying at Thebarton Senior College – I’m doing Community Studies. I always take my Big Issue bag, and the teacher saw it and wants everyone to learn more about The Big Issue, so I’ll be doing a presentation about it.

We all have challenges – homelessness, mental challenges, financial. I believe in The Big Issue – it helps people. The support is good and we get to deal with the public. I want to keep helping other people.


interview by Peter Ascot photograph by Nat Rogers

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This article first appeared in Ed#483 of The Big Issue.