Monday, June 13, 2022
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Big Issue Vendor Profile: Katherine

Katherine originally came to Australia when she was six months old, but following her parents’ divorce when she was five, moved back to England with her mother.

She has refused to let homelessness, or the death of her mother, hold her back. She studied at the St Martin’s School of Art in London, where she met Andy Warhol, rode a bike across the Sahara desert, owned a clothing store, and started painting and decorating.

In 1988 Katherine decided to move back to Sydney. However, she has experienced a range of setbacks which have made settling here that much harder. Not only has she had trouble in a few workplaces but suffers from severe back pains following an ill-fated holiday.

“I went on a holiday with a friend from England and I fell off a horse. Then I crashed the car the next day and I was in a lot of pain in my back.”

Katherine also battles with schizophrenia and, while it has caused her some problems, she refuses to let it define who she is. “You lose everyone when you get diagnosed with a mental illness. It freaks people out. If anyone finds someone that’s not acting well you have to get them help as soon as possible.”

While continuing to paint on the side she says that working at the Big Issue has helped her. “It suits me for now and helps to get me out of the house. The public are lovely, I’ve had bad people in my life, which didn’t help my mental state, but doing this job when you get a nice friendly normal face smiling at you is good. It takes my mind off my issues.”


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