I was born in Sydney, and when I was eight we moved to Queensland. We then came to Newcastle when I was 11. I’ve got a brother who lives in WA but we don’t have any contact. I have stepbrothers and sisters but it’s complicated. I don’t talk to any of them. I would love to, but…

I didn’t enjoy school but it was an escape from the house. The kids used to tease me, but it got me away from my father and my grandmother. I finished school, got to Year 12 but only because my parents said if I didn’t have a job at the end of the holidays, I had to go back for Year 11 and 12 – so I went back to school because I had no idea how to get a job. I didn’t know how to write resumes, how to present myself. I had anxiety and depression and I didn’t even know about it. It was hard times.

After high school I fell pregnant and had a son. And then I met my husband, and I had another child. We raised the two boys until he walked out. That’s a long story.

I’ve been selling The Big Issue seriously for only six months, but I’ve been with the magazine for three years. It’s going really good. I find it helpful because if I sell a magazine and a homeless man is looking through a bin, I can offer him lunch. It helps me and other people out.

I definitely have regulars who come and buy the magazine. Even if they don’t buy the magazine they stop for a chat. One regular customer has become a good friend. I was sick and she cooked me dinner and brought it round. It was very sweet. There’s a gentleman with two kids that regularly buys. And there’s an older couple who always come by and say g’day.

I’m a published poet. I’ve been writing poetry for about five or six years. I’ve been in The Big Issue three times, and I’ve been published in books. I’m also an artist – I do acrylic on canvas. I just put one of my paintings online for sale. I’ve been painting since my last breakdown, which was in 2012. I used it as a form of therapy – I pretty much painted myself better. I’m doing a lot better than I was then because I couldn’t even come out of the house. Now I’m out selling The Big Issue. I’ve come a long way.

With the money I make selling The Big Issue I’m able to buy extra food when we need it. I have more money to help people out or to help myself out, buying extra food for me and Andrew. He’s a work colleague, a fellow Big Issue vendor, and he comes over for dinner nearly every night. Sometimes I shout dinner, sometimes he shouts dinner, it just depends. But most of the time I cook.

What I love most about selling The Big Issue are the people and the walking because I’m losing weight. And my children are happy for me that I have a job and I’m not annoying them every day on the phone.

Lynn sells The Big Issue at Beaumont St, Hunter St Mall & Aldi Mayfield, Newcastle

Interview by Anastasia Safioleas.

Photo by Simone De Peak.