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20 September 2018

Linda

Linda

Linda sells The Big Issue at the Bridge Mall in Ballarat, Victoria.

I’ve lived in Ballarat my whole life. There were six in the family including my mum and dad, and I have two sisters and a brother. I went to different schools because we moved a lot. It was tough growing up.

I left school in Year 10. I worked in a cafe for a while, but then I had a daughter to look after. It was tough because my first husband was sent to prison when she was just a baby. I’ve never had much luck with love.

Then I met Aaron. He’s my husband; we’re not really together anymore but I’m still looking after him. He’s very sick. We just fell out of love, but we were together for a long time, about 12 years. I’m not really looking for love anymore. I just like going out to dance. I put humour in my dancing and a lot of people laugh. I’m very funny. I’m very good with lyrics and writing songs and poetry and limericks. I did a song on The X-Factor. I auditioned but didn’t get on. I sang ‘Landslide’ by Stevie Nicks.

I’ve been involved with people with mental health [issues]. I’ve been to seminars and been a guest speaker about how mental illness affects people. I had a slight breakdown after my father died. We were really close. Mine was a drug psychosis, but I’m not on drugs now and I’ve been clear of that for a long time.

I’ve been with The Big Issue since 2016. I like the magazine. People love reading it. They come from Hamilton, Horsham…because they can’t get The Big Issue out that way they get it off me.
I think The Big Issue is absolutely fantastic. I love getting out there even if it’s freezing cold, I still seem to sell well. I really feel like I’ve done a great thing.

The income makes a difference. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to pay for my dog’s vet bills. I have to save up to go and see my daughter in Brisbane. I’d really like to go and see my grandchildren.

If I did get any money together I would set up some sort of program to help the homeless get accommodation instead of being out on the streets. I met a lady in the Mall a month ago. She was about 70. I asked her how she was going and she said, “Not too bad – I’m just buying some containers.” Then she told me she had bought all these containers because she was going to become homeless. That was so sad to hear. I felt like crying. She is probably somebody’s grandmother.

I’ve had a few hard knocks but I’m happy doing The Big Issue. It makes me smile every day and that’s what it’s all about.

Photo by James Braund

Interview by Anastasia Safioleas
Ballarat, Victoria