30 April 2017

Luke M, Adelaide

Photograph by Adelaide vendor Krystal H

I have always lived in Adelaide, north of the city. I grew up near Arndale and now live in Port Adelaide. I heard about The Big Issue through a high school friend. I was sitting around doing nothing at home so I started almost straight away! I have been working at The Big Issue for three years now.

I have an intellectual disability so I struggled with study. But I enjoyed the social side to school, especially high school. I left school halfway through Year 11, it wasn’t through choice though. I was forced to leave, and took a trial at Bedford Industries. I wanted to finish, but was told I wouldn’t make it through Year 12.

I did a couple of trials at Bedford, which involved cleaning and gardening. It went for about a month or so. I enjoyed the gardening side as you got to be outdoors, which is something I like. I guess that’s why I like working at The Big Issue. Except when it’s raining or 40 degrees, then it’s not so good!

I am a public transport enthusiast! I like buses, trains and trams and reading about the state transport system. I’m always the first to let staff know if there are any public transport issues.
The church has also been a big part of my life since I was 16. I go to the West Lakes Uniting Church every Sunday and attend regular Bible studies with my pastor, Wes. It is a positive and supportive environment.

I have always had a distant relationship with my parents. I occasionally text or talk to my dad, who lives in Castlemaine, Victoria, but hardly spoke to my mum until recently. She lives in Port Adelaide or Outer Harbour somewhere. My parents weren’t allowed to see me from a young age. I lived with my grandma from when I was one or two. I had a good life with her, just the two of us. Grandpa died before I was born. Grandma looked after me, she was always caring and thoughtful. She recently passed away, which is really sad, but I’m coping and remembering all the good times we had.

I suffer from mental illness, particularly anxiety, so just coming into work most days helps with that; working at it from day to day. Even some days when I don’t feel like it the staff double or triple check with me and I happily give in! Then when I get here it is worthwhile for the social side and to get a few sales.

Selling The Big Issue helps me buy my groceries and sometimes shout myself something like Subway. It’s good to make extra money, but the social side is what I enjoy most. It’s not just customers, but the local community that you get to know. I have met local police officers, courier drivers, security guards – all sorts of people who are regulars around the city. I like the community feel it has.

I’ll probably stay here a while. Maybe one day I might try to drive a bus, train or tram. The tram is probably my favourite mode of transport. I am just taking it a day at a time.

This article first appeared in Ed#529 of The Big Issue.

Interview by Jessica Parker
Luke M sells The Big Issue at James Place, Rundle Mall