Words From the Streets

9 June 2016

Words From the Streets

Bianca from ACT. Photograph by Dragi Markovic

In every edition of The Big Issue, there is a page called Streetsheet. For years it has held stories, poems, thoughts and musings from the people this organisation is all about: the vendors. The vendors are always paid for their work. In honour of our 20th Birthday celebrations, we wanted to bring you a tiny selection of submissions from over the years. 



Life Can Be Amazing

I just found out I have a brother that I haven’t ever met. He is called Jack and is now 10 or 11 years old. I’d like to meet him one day.

If you are single, life can be lonely. But if you have a dog, things can often be better. He might live with you but he won’t talk to you. I’ve had Fly since he was two years old and he’s 10 now. He’s a failed guide dog. Nobody wanted him and they nearly put him down but I put up my hand and said you can’t do that – so I got him.

Chris sells The Big Issue at Woden and Tuggeranong, ACT.


How I Met Steven

Nine years ago, I was waiting for my bus to go home when a man came up to the bus stop and smiled at me. I couldn’t help myself and gave him a kiss. Then my bus came and I went home. A month later, this same man appeared at my pitch at Woden while I was selling The Big Issue. We had lunch and a few more kisses…and I fell in love with Steven. So, as you can see, there are many benefits to selling The Big Issue!

Bianca (pictured) sells The Big Issue in various locations in Canberra.




Don’t Give Up

To all the new vendors, don’t be disheartened if you only sell a few in town during your first week. Don’t give up. We’ve all been through it. You will be really surprised what the future holds for you!

Alan H sells The Big Issue outside the Town Hall, Sydney.


Don’t Worry

Take my hand and come with me to another place where you wanna be.

This world is crazy it’s movin’ too fast.

I don’t wanna know how long it’s gonna last.

Don’t talk to me with lies and fear in words I don’t understand.

Just look in my eyes and clear your heart and we will walk together hand in hand.

Don’t worry about the past.

Jason sells The Big Issue at Martin Place, Sydney.




Good Business

First of all, I am very appreciative to The Big Issue staff and my customers. Since becoming a vendor I have seen a big difference in a short time. My bored time has become my business time. I am no longer lonely because I am always talking to different people. I would encourage homeless people and those who are affected to come and join The Big Issue. Long live The Big Issue!

Stephen sells The Big Issue at the GPO on Queen St, Brisbane, and outside the Avid Reader bookshop in West End.



My cockatiel, Sunshine, is like a real friend without being human. We rely on each other for things. I got really worried when he got sick and wondered if it would be better if he was surrendered. But I pushed through and he survived. He is hand-raised, he knows how to whistle, he only lets me give him neck rubs and scratches. He’s very affectionate. He’s grey with orange dots on his cheeks and one tiger tail feather. He’s very smart. We have been on great adventures together. We have moved units together and he has gone to a boarding kennel while I had to go interstate – he must have enjoyed himself heaps, but I was worried about him. I got him microchipped and have been told that I spoil him heaps, but he is just well loved and he shows me how much he loves his new toys and cage (which stands taller than me). I’m glad that I got him as he brightens up my day, every day.

Cindy sells The Big Issue around Brisbane.



South Australia

Use Money for Good

Money is the root of all evil. I believe we need money to pay the bills but too many people have a love of money. Please use money to make a good investment into your life. Don’t just think about your pocket, think about people who support you. I’m really appreciative of the organisations like CARA and SCOSA and The Big Issue that support me. Come and buy a magazine off me. I’m selling almost every day when I’m not at school, and if you’re lucky I might even tell you a good joke!

Steve J sells The Big Issue in the Adelaide CBD.


Do Good

Do something good

Every day I try to have a good day

Whether it’s talking to a friend

Making amends

Or trying to do something good

Don’t resort to bad ideas

Just because someone’s acting

No good

Not everyone who is Muslim or Arabic is a terrorist

And even a Christian can

Be pushed over the edge

So be nice when you can,

Do something good

And you’ll see the world

Like God did in the beginning

Do something good

Daniel K sells The Big Issue in the CBD and surrounding suburbs, Adelaide.




A Fortnightly Scribe

Get your Big Issue

Help the homeless people

Seven dollars the cost

Seven dollars the call

Provides shelter for the lost

The more help the sooner

To alleviate their fear

A fortnightly scribe

A fourteen-day print

And for only seven dollars

It won’t break the mint

Seven dollars every two weeks

Hey, it’s not too hard an ask

So support The Big Issue

Help with its task

So go home tonight

And be warm by the telly

To relax, read the paper

And doze on a full belly

So get The Big Issue

A first class read

Support The Big Issue

For people in need

Geoff M sells The Big Issue in Melbourne Central.


Me and My Boots

It had been a hard day at work and I was annoyed, so I decided to go to the shops. I headed to Melbourne Central and I met a very friendly sales assistant. I spotted some Doc Martins – proven to last, if you look after them. They are made for comfort and all-day wear. These ones had an Aztec design on them and looked smashing. I had to have them! So I made a deal with the friendly sales assistant with the nose ring and bubbly personality. I told him I needed longer than the usual three months for a lay-by. I had $10. He accepted my terms and we parted company. I finally got up the courage to tell my husband that I put a pair of boots on lay-by for $200 and I was going to earn the money to pay them off. He was concerned that the shop would close up before I had a chance to pay for them. But eventually I had saved up enough, and what a bargain I got! Everyone loves the boots. People are actually coming up to compliment me. I could have sold them umpteen times over by now. I have dreamed of owning a pair of Dr Martins since I was a punk in the late 1980s. So me and my boots will see you soon. Let’s hope it’s a better year next year than this one! With strokes and back pain and waiting for hospital beds for surgery, I deserve a treat every now and then.

Sharon sells The Big Issue on the cnr of Collins and Swanston sts, Melbourne.



Western Australia

Seeking Cures

With frazzled unwashed hair,

Stuffed in a knit hat,

Cold wind slaps her face,

Wound pounds on swollen leg,

Tied with rags, she’s three sheets to the wind,

Bagged up clothes that are cheaply branded,

In hand, she settles by warm grates,

Drinking booze to feel safe.


Judgement fades as you read her streetwise eyes,

And acknowledge brokenness,

Chasing cures to smooth the pain.

She thrills to the surge of the pain, seeks fame

With scratchies hoping for a win,

A life changer.

She drinks a case of beer to cure the pain of being alone.

Teagan sells The Big Issue at Westralia Plaza, Perth.



In 2006 I lost my Dad and five months later I lost my eldest son. It kicked me in the guts. I lost my job and my house and lost my way for a long time. Even though I settled down and had more children, I still felt lost in my mind and my heart. It took me a long time to find happiness. I still miss my boy but I am dealing with the pain now. I have loved working at The Big Issue, but I am getting my five children back so it’s time to leave. I will miss my customers and my work colleagues the most, and making them smile every day. I cannot thank them enough for getting me through until I get my children back. This will be a new beginning and a new chapter in my life. Once I’m settled with my children I want to go to TAFE and study counselling so I can help kids struggling with mental health issues, and help out grieving parents who have lost a loved one.

Charlie sells The Big Issue at Murray Street Underground, Perth.


For more great reads like this, check out the Streetsheet section, on p7 of almost every edition of The Big Issue!