26 April 2017

Kellee T, Perth

Photograph by Ross Swanborough

I’m a WA girl and have never lived anywhere else. I was born in Perth and moved to Broome with my family when I was 12. Being the new kid at school was hard and I got teased a lot, but I got used to it and found ways to ignore it. I didn’t let anyone or anything get to me (apart from the heat). I loved living up there and was happy. When Dad died two years later, however, everything changed and things got a bit tough. At 21 I found myself in a bad relationship and eventually moved back down to Perth to get away from my violent and abusive partner.

Back in Perth, I met someone else and we got married. We were together for nine-and-a-half years and had a son. Things didn’t work out and eventually we got divorced. I was lucky to have my family around to support me. Mum now lives in Perth and we’re still close. I get on really well with my three brothers and although we don’t see much of each other, we keep in touch.

I’m also very lucky to have the support of my partner Mick. I met Mick in 2010 and we’re still going strong. Mick sells The Big Issue too, so we spend a lot of time together. Mick is the love of my life. He looks after me, makes me happy and is always there for me. We have a four-year-old son together, but neither he nor my eldest son live with us at the moment. I find being apart from my boys really difficult and it makes me feel very sad at times, but they know that I’m always there for them. I get to see them every week, which keeps me motivated and positive.

I’ve had a few different jobs, but I’d been out of work since 2004 before I started working at The Big Issue a couple of years ago. It was my friend Jason, who’s also a vendor, who persuaded me to sign up. I sell The Big Issue every weekday. I love my job, as I get to meet new people. The money I make is a big help, but it’s helped me in lots of other ways too. I feel more confident talking to people.

When I’m not selling magazines, I have lots of other things going on. I work at Maccas every weekend as a cleaner and play basketball and Big Issue Street Soccer every week. I’m also a huge Wildcats fan. I have lots of hopes and dreams for the future, like getting married to Mick, but my main focus is my two sons. They’re the most important thing in my life and I hope that we can all be together one day. For now, I’ll just keep on working hard!

This article first appeared in Ed#533 of The Big Issue

Interview by Ellie Leahy
Kellee T sells The Big Issue at Hay Street Mall