Vendor Profile: Kathy

9 October 2015 Andrew Joske

Vendor Profile: Kathy

Photograph by Ross Swanbrough

"I GREW UP in South Fremantle, the daughter of a Ukrainian mother and Macedonian father. My father was an interesting character – a master builder and stonemason. He was always working seven days a week and was a little distant from us kids.

I enjoyed school and especially loved English class. I was always told by the nuns that I would make an excellent journalist, mainly because I was so good with words and spelling. I only had to look at a word once and it would be imprinted on my brain, so I was always the spelling bee champion! I remember getting into trouble for passing notes with the answers to other kids, and getting a whack on the hand for my troubles – I didn’t help the other kids out for too much longer!

After school finished, I went to business college, did well. Unfortunately, my mother was unwell and the duty of being a good daughter meant I had to look after her. After that, life got a bit rocky and I eventually moved away from Fremantle.

I ended up moving down to Margaret River to escape the negativity of a relationship and in search of peace. I stayed for 12 years, having bought a small piece of land with money bequeathed to me from my father. Eventually, I sold this and was able to purchase a Homes West cottage in Busselton, where I have lived for the past 28 years. The South West [of Western Australia] is one of the most beautiful places to live in the world.
For much of my life I have been long-term unemployed, with short stints of work here and there as a cleaner, audio typist and ironer. I stumbled across The Big Issue when I was surfing the net in May last year and saw they were looking for vendors. I emailed the WA manager and within a week I was selling magazines.

The extra income is great and allows me to buy extra groceries and pay my bills, and means I no longer need to take out loans from pawnbrokers. More importantly, I look forward to working because I get to chat to my customers. They are lovely, always cheerful and chatty and always generous. As a person with no family, selling The Big Issue has made me feel more connected to the community. It is easy to feel down in the dumps when you are not part of a community.

My biggest passion in life is poetry. I have been quite successful over the years, being published in quality magazines such as Australian Writers Journal, Polestar and The Big Issue. My poetry manuscript Skies of My Dreams was published by Ginninderra Press. I get a great buzz out of being published.

I always just want to have more time to write more poetry.

When I think about the future, I do not worry. I have a great faith in my life and I know that there is a God looking out for me and leading me. Life is full of challenges and ups and downs, but I feel blessed because of my faith and feel positive about what comes next."

Kathy sells The Big Issue in Busselton, WA.

interview by Andrew Joske
photograph by Ross Swanbrough

This article first appeared in Ed#495 of The Big Issue.