Before I started selling the magazine, I went to Port Pirie to find my life again and get things right again. In that time some serious and personal things happened, and my mum passed away.

I was trying to find ways to go back to work but it’s hard when you get to a certain age and with certain illnesses I’ve got, like diabetes and all that – other jobs go by time and schedules – it’s hard to find the right job. I found I was trying to apply for jobs and I wasn’t getting any luck, so I thought Why don’t I ring and try The Big Issue? I made sales the first day! It felt good, like something I could do, and the idea of making people happy felt good.

My grandchildren mean the world to me. I had my first daughter at 19, then I lost a baby the same year I got married. I called him Sean, and I always wondered what he’d be like. Then I had my other daughter and she had the cord around her neck at birth – we had to go to Flinders on the plane. She was born on the 23rd and on the 30th I got to hold her. When I was in hospital a miracle happened and it was something that changed me: it changed how I feel about things that come alright. She is doing well today. And I had my son after that and he’s done very well in his life, a nice little family.

Art is the one thing I use when I need to get my mind off things. I like painting, pottery, making things. I even had an idea that with all the flowers my children give me as gifts, to put them all together and do some kind of art, so I don’t have to throw them away. The idea of throwing away what my children give me doesn’t make me feel good.

Now that I’ve paid some things off I want to save for a nice holiday. It might be to England or Holland – they are places I have always wanted to see. In Holland I like the windmills and clog shoes and costumes. In England I like the old churches and old buildings. I’ll use this time to save and one day I will get there. I loved Lady Diana and all the royals; she was my favourite. I like to dress neat and tidy like her. She was nice and kind naturally. I feel I am a bit like that; it isn’t hard to be.

The Big Issue has helped my confidence. I got asked to go in the International Women’s Day edition with Jane Fonda on the cover and my picture was in it; the photo is on my fridge. When The Big Issue came out of lockdown I was on the Channel 10 news – I talked to the weather lady. The Big Issue has opened me up more. It’s made me see I can do well, and I can get a job.

Debbie H sells The Big Issue at Central Markets and Zuma Caffe, Adelaide


Interview by Rebecca Dempsey.

Photo by Nat Rogers.

First published in The Big Issue edition #639.