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14 June 2018


I’m from Mildura in Victoria. I came to Canberra when I was around four, as my father had to come here to get work – there wasn’t much work in Mildura. I’m used to the cold but sometimes you never get over the winters in Canberra. It is freezing!

I had a pretty good upbringing, both parents worked and they’ve retired now. I’m very close to my parents. I’m in constant contact with my family.

Before The Big Issue life was one endless stream of dead-end stuff. One job after the other. I worked in child care and hospitality and a bit in aged care. It was all too much. After a bout of depression I never felt the same again. I became isolated and depressed, staying at home a lot. I felt like I was losing my social skills. There would be days when I wouldn’t talk to anybody else, not see anybody, just stay at home, watching TV.

I found out about The Big Issue through another vendor at a women’s group. It sounded like a good way to get extra income, so I went in and signed up. And from that day on – 12-and-a-half-years ago – I’ve hardly had a day when I haven’t sold the mag! I’m the longest-serving vendor in Canberra. It’s the one thing I’ve actually stuck at my whole life. When I’m in a really lousy mood I get a bit down and I can’t be bothered going out, but then I think if I sell a couple of magazines it will lift my mood and it always does, no matter what’s happening in my life.

I love walking and listening to music, cooking, spending time with friends. I spend 45 minutes on my cross-trainer every morning before breakfast, even if I sometimes don’t feel like doing it. It sort of kicks off my day, and I feel better afterwards.

There’s one customer who comes to my pitch every morning. He always buys me a coffee before he goes to work. I never asked him to do it. It makes my day, it makes me feel happy. The Big Issue has been a good thing in my life. I can relate to the other vendors, a lot of them are in the same position in life – we have little opportunity and next to no income. I find it a bit hard to relate to professional people who have a full-time job, who have a family. The Big Issue is like having a large caring family, we can talk to each other.

The Big Issue gives me money to put food on the table and petrol in the car. The money helps with repairs to the car. I recently had to buy a set of new tyres – The Big Issue money paid for that. If I didn’t have my car the isolation would again be a problem. I can see myself selling The Big Issue for the rest of my life. I am my own boss, running my own business.

Luceil sells The Big Issue at the Watson shops in Canberra.

Photograph: Sean Davey

Interview by Anastasia Safioleas
Watson shops, Canberra