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1 November 2018

Barry

Vendor Barry from Sydney

Meet Barry.

He sells The Big Issue at Broadway, Sydney.

I’m from Victoria, about three hours from Melbourne in the country. I moved up to Sydney last year and my plan was to come up here and start driving tow trucks. But it hasn’t really worked out. Everything’s gone to shit.

I’ve got a couple of convictions on my licence that have stopped me getting my tow truck licence. They aren’t serious convictions, but they are still convictions. It’s not that easy to get jobs anymore, it’s actually pretty hard. Plus, I’ve just turned 52, so that probably makes it harder again.

I was doing alright at one stage, I drove trucks. I lost my son to SIDS in 2002 and me and my girlfriend then had a few years where it was a bit up and down. We split up in 2007.

I’ve been sleeping rough down at Bondi and in Wollongong. You almost get used to it...sort of. But then when it’s wet and cold you don’t get used to it. I go to bed if it’s warmer lying in bed, no matter the time of day. But then you find at 3am you wake up because it’s that bit colder again. That takes you to about 5am or 6am when it gets that bit warmer and you can go to sleep again. You lose track of time; every day is the same.

I did have a boarding room in Bondi, but it was $200 a week. So that’s $400 out of my dole payment of $550 a fortnight, which was a fair bit. But over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, I ended up behind; and they kicked me out because I was a week behind.

I went to Sydney Homeless Connect and that’s how I seen The Big Issue and I thought, cool I’ll do that. I do it almost every day now. I don’t mind it. I like chatting to people, I always say hello. Most say hello back to you, some keep going, some stop and have a yack.

I’ve had my motorbike for about nine years. I’ve had people ask me if I’ve ever thought about selling my bike to get a place to stay for the night, but that’s stupid. I might be down and out at the minute but if I sold it how long is the money going to last? What am I meant to do then? Walk around? It would be different if I were still paying it off, but I own it.

It is fun when you’re selling more magazines. When you don’t sell many it’s tough, but it’s alright. You get money to live on and that’s all that matters, just as long as I’ve got enough to get me by. You really need to make $30 a day to live; buy something to eat and a little bit of juice. If I do that I’m happy enough. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be broke.

Photo by Peter Holcroft

Interview by Sam Clark
Broadway, Sydney