Nathan W

I have been selling The Big Issue since two Septembers ago, so two years now. It’s had its ups and downs, but it’s good. It keeps me chugging along. One step forward, one foot in front of another.

Before I started, I was trying to find work. I’d worked in a few different jobs: I used to do plumbing with my uncle for a year, then I was door-to-door for sales in industrial and retail all across Sydney, Newcastle and regional areas. I also worked for a national charity. One day, I just snapped and left. I didn’t like the system and I didn’t like the times or areas I had to work.

Two years passed where I was looking for work through Seek and Gumtree without luck, or I’d screw up my interview. It wasn’t working for me. That’s when I started selling The Big Issue. I always knew about it – I kept passing by people selling it while I was working.

Now I work in Hornsby and sometimes at Newtown, both near the train stations. There are good days and bad days. The door-to-door sales experience has helped, but I usually just wave it around screaming “Big Issue!” or “Hi, I’ve got The Big Issue, come buy”.

School was okay-ish. I did average in my Year 12 exams. I grew up in Sydney, around the Strathfield area with my parents, brother and sisters, but I don’t talk very much with my siblings. I used to get into fights at home with them and I have been kicked out twice after a fight, and moved to other places.

But it’s better now. I am living back with my parents and catch the train up to Hornsby to work, which takes about half an hour on the Epping line, or an hour on the North Shore line.

The recent lockdown was very, very boring. I was itching to work! To get by, I played plenty of video games and slept a lot. I play Nintendo Switch, the computer and read novels. I read novels where people cultivate to get stronger, meditate and all that. Not self‑improvement novels but Wuxia novels. I don’t meditate, myself.

I do like role-playing games. Right now, I’m playing Digimon, Dragon Quest and Zelda: Breath of the Wild – and I can’t wait for number two.

The best thing about selling The Big Issue is talking to people. Since lockdown, sales have slightly fallen because there are less people around. The tap and go system helps every now and then. It’s still been nice getting out there and working again.


Nathan sells The Big Issue in Hornsby and Newtown, Sydney.

Interview by Sam Clark
Photo by Peter Holcroft