Home  /  The Big Issue Magazine  /  Vendors  /  Raylene

13 July 2020


Photo by Ross Swanborough

I love a chat, and could happily tell my life story to a stranger. I love a bit of fun too, and am happy to put myself out there for a laugh. I think those parts of my personality make me a good Big Issue vendor. It makes my job more interesting.

I started selling The Big Issue a couple of years ago. I brought my son, Jarran, into the office to sign up, and I realised it could be good for me, too. I’d had a bumpy few years – it’s so hard to find work when you’re over 50, and when you haven’t worked for a while you lose your confidence. There’d been a year of sleeping on friends’ couches, and some tough stuff going on in my life.

Selling magazines suits me beautifully. My customers are lovely and the shop owners at my pitch are wonderful, too. I can afford to do things that make me feel good about myself – like getting my hair done, my teeth fixed, buying plants for my garden, or doing big cook-ups for my family and friends. I absolutely love cooking and I love seeing people enjoy what I cook. I’m known for bringing batches of freshly baked cookies to The Big Issue breakfasts, which no-one seems to mind!

I grew up in Perth in a stable home, and went to business college. I went straight from college into a girl Friday role that was great experience for everything else I’ve done – my work journey has changed so many times! I worked with elderly people and people with disabilities for years and loved it. I was devastated when I had to leave because new quality assurance rules meant I needed formal qualifications.

People say I have a big heart, and I like taking care of people, so that work really suited me. I moved up to Coral Bay with my two small boys after I separated from their dad. I moved to be close to my sister. I worked at the caravan park and organised tours and I loved it – it’s a beautiful spot! I had to leave when I got sick, and I moved to Busselton, then Dunsborough. When I look back, I realise I’ve been drawn to places near the water. I was a real water baby as a little one, and still go to the beach a lot. I find sitting on the sand so calming. It’s one of the ways I look after my mental health.

Depression has always been a thing for me. A diagnosis helped and I’ve been meeting with my lovely psychiatrist once a month for 32 years – we’ve aged together! Wonderful friends help, too. I’ve learned to just take baby steps on the tougher days – one thing at a time – and that the odd lazy day escaping into a murder mystery book is okay. I’m pretty happy-go-lucky, all things considered. I don’t think my life has always been an easy life, but I would say I’m content now. I love my boys and my family – like many families, we’re complicated, but I love them to bits – and having a cosy place to potter in. I have work that I love, and heaps of really great friends around me to share food and a laugh with.

Interview by Pia Bonifant
Raylene sells The Big Issue outside Fresh Provisions, Bicton, WA