Vendor Profile: Jason

8 April 2016 Sam Clark

Vendor Profile: Jason

Photo by Peter Holcroft

I’ve been selling The Big Issue for seven years now. I was homeless, found out about it from a notice in a shelter.

As soon as I gave it a go it came naturally because I used to be a salesman, a travelling showie.

I was a country kid. Born in Victoria, and then moved to Queensland as my parents travelled for work. I worked in a lot of different jobs before coming to The Big Issue. I worked on sailing boats in the Whitsundays and internationally. That took me to 28 countries as well as every state and territory in Australia. I’ve also cooked in hotels, restaurants and cafes. But that burned me out; it was very stressful.

I consider myself a bit of an economic refugee in my own country because I had to travel for work and it came unstuck. I was moving for opportunities and looking for cheap rent or housing, but sometimes where there is cheap rent there is no work. So I’ve come into the city, like many others, because there is work and a strong economy. As a result, however, there is also high rent and a shortage of accommodation.

When you get older it becomes harder to get a job. You also get sick and disheartened going through the application process. The Big Issue simplifies it and you can be your own boss of a small microbusiness – society needs more of them.

The Big Issue helps the little person; it gives the little battlers a go. I’m really thrilled about being part of a social enterprise that helps the battler.

It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. It’s helping build my life up, it helps my mental health, helps my pocket and confidence. I’ve met a lot of beautiful people selling the magazine. We see both good and bad on the street – not all people out there are bad, there are a lot of good people, too.

I’ve met people out there who want to help others. They want to help someone giving it a go. Not just begging but actually trying to sell an item, even though it’s a small item, just a paper.

I hope to travel more in the future. I am also working on a project at the moment. I’ve helped my life go up from the gutter with affirmations, and by trying to be anti-anxiety without medication. That’s my project, ‘Healing Your Feeling’. I want to help others do that, to get their lives in order as well. I also want to write a book about my experiences and all that I have seen on the street.

I would like to thank all my customers who have helped me over the years. Whether it be buying a magazine, stopping for a chat or even minding my dog, Brutus, when I need to take a break and find my balance. I am truly thankful for your support.

Jason sells The Big Issue in Martin Place and Coogee, Sydney.

interview by Sam Clark photograph by Peter Holcroft

This article was first published in Ed#509 of The Big Issue.