15 December 2016

Chris, Perth

Photograph by Ross Swamborough

Being born and raised in Perth, I am naturally a diehard WAFL fan and have followed my team, the West Perth Falcons, for as long as I can remember! I am the eldest of five boys and also have
two sisters. We were all close growing up and although we’re now spread out between Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Toodyay, WA, we see each other when we can.

My brother John moved in to take care of me and Mum when she was diagnosed with leukaemia in July 2011. Mum passed away suddenly a month later, and John and I have lived together ever since. John is a great support to me and we get on really well.

I attended South Kensington specialist school as I was diagnosed as having an intellectual disability. I have been told that I was injured in a fall when I was young. Although I left school at 16, just as I was beginning to learn to read and write, I have very happy memories of my time there, and met one of my closest friends, Steve. We have remained friends for the past 50 years! Steve also sells The Big Issue and he suggested I sign up back in 2013.

The Big Issue is one of many different jobs I’ve had. For the past 45 years I have worked as a gardener for a disability employment agency one day a week – I’m the longest-serving employee the company currently has! I also spent a couple of years volunteering at a soup kitchen, bringing
food to homeless and disadvantaged people in Perth, as well as delivering food to the elderly. I have always enjoyed helping people and making them smile, and that’s why I love selling The Big Issue. I sell with my support worker, Julie. I love chatting to my regular customers, and meeting and interacting with people. My customers help and support me by buying the magazine each fortnight, and I hope I help them in return by being friendly, smiley and providing a good read!

The Big Issue keeps me busy, but I still find time for
my biggest passion in life – the West Perth Falcons.
I’ve been a member of the footy club for over 40 years and never miss a game. I’ve even managed to convert Steve from an East Fremantle fan to a West Perth supporter! I am also a massive West Coast Eagles fan and my brother John organised for Steve and I to go to the grand final in Melbourne last year, which is something I’ll always remember.

John and I have had some other great adventures.
For my 60th birthday we travelled around the world
for three months. Our dad was from Hungary and
passed away in 1996, so it was a highlight seeing where he grew up. There have been ups and downs throughout my life and at times things have been a struggle, but I don’t feel like my disability has held me back. I always try to stay positive and selling The Big Issue helps me to do that.

This article was first published in Ed#520 of The Big Issue.

Interview by Ellie Leahy
Chris sells The Big Issue on Angelo St, South Perth