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23 February 2018

Andrew S

Andrew S

"I grew up in Manchester. I had a very happy childhood, I was an only child with lots of  aunts and uncles. I wasn't really interested in school, it didn't really teach me anything. I came out of school as thick as I went in. The only subject I enjoyed was geography, 'cos I had a nice teacher. I wanted to be a professional soccer player, but didn't quite make it.

After school I landed a job with Konica and I've spent most of my life working in sales. I was selling office equipment for 20 years, fax machines, printers. I've been working most of my life.

I moved to Adelaide in 2005. I felt like a second-class citizen in the UK and I wanted a better start for my children, a better life, so we migrated to Australia. I've got three children. My eldest, Jack, is 24, Abigale is 21 next month and Georgina is 17.
When we first arrived in Adelaide and got off the plane it was 39 degrees outside. It was a bit of a shock coming from -2 in England. The first 12 months were the hardest, missing family. We had our first Christmas away, that's when homesickness kicks in. When we arrived in Adelaide we had nothing, no jobs. But after a year or so things fell into place. My aim this year is to become an Australian citizen. Our life is here now.

I was an employment consultant for about eight years, working with Centrelink recipients, people with barriers to employment and disabilities. Then I got sick and ended up in the hospital for three months and couldn't go back to work. The doctors wouldn't sign me off.
I started doing The Big Issue about a year and a half ago. I was walking down Jetty Road in Glenelg and wondering how I was going to pay my medical bills. That's when I saw Brian selling the mag. We started chatting and that was it, I signed up the very next day.

I took up boxing to work on my agility, fitness, overall physical and mental health, to give myself some structure. It was going well, but then I had a minor heart attack in December, so I have to look after myself better. I was hoping to go to England this year to catch up with my mother, but now I can't fly for a year, so it will have to wait. I haven't told her yet. I know she will be disappointed.

I enjoy working at Haigh's in Rundle Mall. I'm an early bird, so like working in the morning. The biggest benefit is meeting other people, staying in touch with the society and the reality. I have about eight to 10 regular customers, they always stop and chat. I enjoy being part of The Big Issue community, catching up with vendors and coming to the new edition meeting.

It's good to have a bit of extra money too. I'm saving up for a Kombi van. When I retire I want to go around Australia, especially Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. Doing The Big Issue keeps me going. Helps to pay for my medication. Keeps me sane too. I just want to keep going, keep improving myself."

This article first appeared in 'Long Live Queen' edition #555 of The Big Issue.

Andrew sells The Big Issue in Rundle Mall, Adelaide

Photograph: Nat Rogers

Interview by Alicja Clisby
Rundle Mall, Adelaide