Selling The Big Issue is a family business for me, as my mum, Jackie, introduced me to it back in September 2016. This seems fitting, as family is the most important part of my life. There are a lot of us – I have three older and three younger siblings, plus another sister that passed away as a baby. I love Mum, but I have not always been able to live with her. Unfortunately, she experienced domestic violence, so it was not always safe, and when I was 11 years old, I spent three years in foster care. Sometimes with my siblings and sometimes we were separated.

Being removed from Mum had a pretty big impact on me. There were dramatic scenes – I ran away from foster care three times. Getting split up really hurt. I got distracted from school, and my schoolwork really suffered. I also became quiet and withdrawn. In foster care, I got moved to a school where I was bullied a lot. The best part of school was getting into the soccer program at Woodvale. I was training four times a week. I left school at the end of Year 10, and I intended to keep playing soccer but I hurt my knee. I had surgery in 2017, but it is still not 100 per cent.

A big part of my life are my siblings, and my two beautiful nephews. I help my oldest sister look after them sometimes and pick them up from school. The oldest one is nine years old, and he loves me to play Fortnite with him. The younger one is six, and we watch movies together and play Lego. They both play soccer also, and I am helping out training the under-6s as a volunteer.

My journey with The Big Issue has been all about developing my confidence and coming out of my shell. I am naturally shy, so it was a big deal talking to strangers and selling magazines when I first started. I love getting to work with Mum, and chatting to my customers and just asking them how their day was. I am also naturally a bit of a homebody, so selling magazines helps me to get out and about.

The money I earn really helps us to get through each fortnight and sometimes allows us to do things that are a bit special. I turned 21 last year, and Mum and I were meant to go to Sydney for my 21st, which would have been my first time on a plane, but unfortunately lockdown happened. That was hard, but it couldn’t be helped. Then Mum booked a trip to Broome for my 22nd but WA went into lockdown. Finally, we got to go to Broome in March and we had a spectacular time. The highlight was all the tours we went on – to pearl farms, Matso’s brewery, the 12 Mile Bird Park, the croc park and Cable Beach camel tours!

I do not think I will sell The Big Issue forever. It has been great, but I’m looking forward to doing different things. My aim is to do an Educational Assistant course. I love kids and I really want to assist students who need extra help. I have started and stopped the course a bit, as I continue to work on and improve my mental health. The great thing is that I passed the first section so I know when I put my mind to it, I’ll be able to finish it!

Nakita sells The Big Issue at The Apple Store on Hay St and Myer Bridge, Perth

Interview by Andrew Joske

Photo by Ross Swanborough