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24 September 2018

Cameron

Cameron

Meet Cameron. 

He sells The Big Issue on the corner of Gold Coast Hwy and Lavarack St, Nobbys Beach, Qld.

I enjoyed school and had some great friends in primary school – though I did get picked on a fair bit. I missed a lot of school because I was in hospital for long periods of time. Mum said that I was strangled by my umbilical cord during birth which caused some trouble with my brain and my memory, which gave me some learning difficulties. I went to high school and was put in special classes.

I have had quite a few jobs in gardening, property maintenance and as a stable hand. Being a stable hand was my favourite, but my boss went broke. He was really kind and let me sleep in the stables as I had no housing.

I slept rough for a few years on the beach. I had a tent and some basic things. I buried a wheelie bin and kept my stuff in that every day – so I only had to carry a backpack around during the day. I would get back to my spot late at night and uncover the wheelie bin and put up my tent. Everything stayed clean and dry. I’ve had secure housing for the past 18 months. It is only transitional housing, but I have a roof over my head and my own space.

One of my neighbours, Mark, told me about The Big Issue. I have been selling for nearly a year and I love it.

Valentine’s Day this year was the best day of my whole life! I had this idea to give a red rose to everyone who bought a Big Issue on Valentine’s Day. I told one of my customers Lance about it – he said that he wanted to help me. He wanted to buy the roses, but I said no as I wanted them to be from my heart. In the end we went halves, he bought 50 and I bought 50. The night before Valentine’s Day, Lance put a post on Facebook and it went viral. One of my friends called me before I even got to my pitch and said that they were talking about me on the radio. By the time I got to my pitch three TV stations were there! I was on radio and TV and all over the internet! Lance had to go buy more roses and one of the radio stations bought me a big bunch as well. A Hollywood actress called Minnie Driver even tweeted about me. People travelled for over an hour to come and say hi and buy a magazine and get a rose from me. Lance has been a very good friend to me. I gave away over 250 roses, and I sold out of magazines!

I can’t wait until next Valentine’s Day – I am going to give out roses again. It made me so happy to make other people happy. I felt so much love in the air.

Working for The Big Issue has been great – it has given me a reason to get up every day. I have lots of regular customers and they are so kind and friendly. Some of them buy me a coffee or a doughnut. My self-confidence has really improved and I have bought a few things for my unit. I have suffered from depression in the past and The Big Issue has really helped me with that.

Portrait photos by Nathan Brayshaw

 

Interview by Susie Longman
Corner of Gold Coast Hwy and Lavarack St, Nobbys Beach