Holly Days

Holly Days

Brisbane vendor Holly P shares what she gets up to when she’s away from her pitch – including volunteering, gleeful swimming and making up her own rules to Monopoly!


On Monday mornings I volunteer at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. My shift is from 9am to 1pm. My main job is going around the wards with another volunteer, with a trolley full of books and magazines. We also have puzzles and colouring-in. We ask patients if they would like to borrow a book or magazine. We also do laundry for some of the patients, in particular for patients who have been at the hospital for a while. Sometimes there may be a patient who, for whatever reason, is not allowed to leave the ward on their own. We take them off the ward to the shop or to get a cup of coffee in the cafeteria. Sometimes they just want to have a chat.

At about 12:30, my work buddy and I have lunch together before finishing our shift. I love volunteering – I find it very rewarding, and it is great to give something back.

Sometimes on Monday afternoons I have a specialist appointment. If I don’t, I like to go for a swim. I am lucky to live in a Brisbane Housing Company unit block opposite the QUT pool and gym, and NDIS covers my membership. I love going swimming and try to go as much as I can. Because I have chronic pain it really helps me to move and stretch and it’s just so relaxing.


Tuesday is my long Big Issue day. I catch the bus into the city around 7am. First, I go to the church where The Big Issue office is. The ladies in the office, Lou and Roxy, are lovely and nothing is too much trouble for them. I stock up on magazines and then head to my pitch. My favourite spot is Post Office Square. I get to my pitch and set up my cart and chair. I watch the people go by, sometimes I call out “Big Issue!” I love people-watching – I like to imagine a bit about the lives of the people who pass by – so this is the perfect job for me. You never really know how the day is going to go. Sometimes I sit for ages, and no-one wants to buy a mag, but then it may get really busy.

My favourite time of the day is lunchtime. Lou or Roxy does a pitch walk, going around saying hi to everyone and checking how we are going. They bring more mags if we need them. They often bring a drink, and a snack to keep us going – like some chocolate or chips. They are very encouraging, and I look forward to their visits.

I finish my shift about 2pm and my NDIS support worker picks me up. I have a number of physical and mental chronic health conditions and receive support from the NDIS. Me and my carer usually go swimming and maybe play a game of Monopoly. I love playing Monopoly and have heaps of my own rules that make the game even more fun. We make sure the apartment is tidy (tidyish I should say – I do like a bit of clutter).


I have a carer from 9am to 2pm on Wednesday. Often, we have appointments, but if not we like to go to Sandgate to the water and go to the lagoon. I have a condition affecting my immune system, where I have low immunoglobulins. I get an infusion of immunoglobulins every three weeks. Without this I would be sick a lot, with nasty infections. I am very grateful to blood donors who make it possible for me to receive these infusions. The infusions usually take about four hours, then I go home and rest.


Thursday mornings I go to group therapy. I am doing a program called dialectical behaviour therapy that helps with my PTSD. We learn skills in group to help us manage to live the best life we can. I have group for two-and-a-half hours once a week, and an individual therapy session once a week also. It is a big commitment, but it is helping me enormously.

A carer picks me up from group at 12:30. We get some groceries and then go to my place, and we say hello to my cat, Neville (I am a huge, huge Harry Potter fan). We also watch a bit of Downton Abbey (my favourite show). When the carer leaves at 3pm, I usually go swimming.


On Fridays I do a lot of exercise, which is good because I eat a lot of chocolate! A carer comes at 7:30 and we go for a swim. Then we go for a walk – my favourite place to walk is Walkabout Creek. It is beautiful there.

At 11:30 the carer drops me off in the city, so I can sell The Big Issue for a few hours. The great thing about The Big Issue, for me, is that I can fit it in around my appointments. Also, if I am sick or can’t make it, I am not letting anyone down like in other jobs.

Doing The Big Issue helps with my medical expenses and my hobbies, and also means I can have my Neville. I got him two months ago, and he’s made my life so amazing. I have a human best friend, but Neville is also my best friend. He sleeps in my bed, he follows me around the house – he’s like a dog.

At 2.30 I catch a bus to Ashgrove where I do exercise physiology for an hour. It is hard work, and by the time I catch the bus home on Fridays I am exhausted.

Every second Friday my brother and sister-in-law come over and we have dinner together. We usually have fish and chips or pizza, and they bring their beautiful doggies.


On Saturday mornings I sell The Big Issue at the Kelvin Grove Markets. I have a few regulars, and everyone at the markets is so friendly – I meet some great people. I love it because I get to listen to the live music next to my pitch, and people-watch.

Sometimes on Saturday afternoons, a carer will take me rollerblading. I’m not very good at it, but it is good for my balance. Before I started rollerblading I used to use a stick to walk. But I don’t need it anymore. If I’m not doing anything on Saturday afternoons I go for a swim, and maybe use the bike or the treadmill at the gym.


Every second Sunday I have a support worker. We usually go grocery shopping, and then do something fun like going to the movies or playing Monopoly. On the Sundays I don’t have a support worker I go into the city and sell The Big Issue for a few hours. It’s a totally different atmosphere on the weekends and there is so much going on to watch.

So that is my week. It is a good week. Thanks to places like Brisbane Housing Company, NDIS and The Big Issue, I am living my best life.

Holly sells The Big Issue in Brisbane CBD and Kelvin Grove Markets.

First published in Ed#711