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26 November 2014


Photograph by Peter Holcroft

I am 27. My dad died of cirrhosis of the liver when I was five and I was taken off my mum and put into adoptive care. I grew up separate from my sisters – we all went out to different families. I ran away all the time.

I went through to Year 10 at school, at special schools. I’ve got a mild intellectual disorder and ADHD, that’s why.

I got a couple of catalogue jobs, paperboy, delivery jobs. That was about it. I do want to get a job, but it’s hard with my criminal record. I’ve got a pretty bad record because when I was a kid I was running away and stealing food and drinks to survive.

I heard about The Big Issue from a fellow Sydney vendor, Marcus. Started selling in 2005. Later I sold in Melbourne for a few months – I just wanted to see what Melbourne was like – and in Adelaide for about a month when I went there to see my kids. I’ve got three boys – aged four, three, two.

They were in Adelaide with their mother, my ex-wife, but now they are back in Sydney in Department of Community Services care, so I get to see them every three months. I’m not in a position at the moment to look after them, so at least they are happy where they are and are getting looked after. There’s someone to give them a good life.

I sell at David Jones at Elizabeth and Market [streets], or at Castlereagh and Market. I work the men’s store in the morning and women’s store in the afternoon. I try to work every day, though some weekends it might be at other pitches.

I talk to a fair few of the customers, and there are some people who come past and don’t buy the magazine, but I’ll talk to them while they’re waiting for the lights to change.

It gets me out – usually I’m either playing games on my phone, or trying to catch up on my sleep. At the moment I’m staying on my mate’s floor. The only boarding-house vacancies were in ones I’d had problems in before, people with drugs and alcohol, and I don’t want to put myself in that situation again.

During winter my mate said I could stay there till the weather starts warming up. When summer gets close, people start moving out of the boarding houses and I can get in. Some go picking fruit, some go travelling, some go back to living on the street because the weather is warmer.

I reckon I’ve changed a lot since I was younger. I’m not hanging around with any of my old mates or anything. I do want to get my Year 12, to get a better chance of getting a job. Just want to say thanks to all my customers for all their support over the years. Like I said, it keeps me occupied, interacting with other people. It keeps me out of trouble.


Interview by Peter Ascot
Tim sells The Big Issue at the corner of Elizabeth and Market Streets, Sydney