Big Issue vendor Colin heads to Blackpool, all thanks to Manchester’s kindness

If you are in Manchester on weekdays, either at Oxford Road train station, heading off to work or having lunch, seeing a film or relaxing at Home on First Street, the chances are that you know Colin, the Big Issue vendor who works on both of these pitches.

When the pandemic hit, because Colin was classed as vulnerable he had to stay indoors for longer than he imagined or hoped.

So when he came back to see his beloved regulars and his friends – the staff at HOME, he was determined to sell as many magazines as he used to.

But life had changed and many people were working from home and footfall in the centre was down. Colin enjoyed the odd weekend away to Blackpool but selling fewer magazines and the cost of living crisis meant that he was not able to go.

So last year a crowdfunder was set up and locals responded and he was able to get away for a few days. He went to his favourite café for breakfast, went for walks along the seafront and in the evening, he hit the local karaoke bars.

He came back to Manchester looking refreshed and really appreciated this downtime.

This year the cost of living has hit him even harder. He works the odd weekend making up for lost sales in the week and often sets up his pitch over the bank holiday. Always smiling and chatting to his regulars, he would never let on that he ever needs any support.

With the support of so many last year, I wondered if people would be up for doing it again. So I wrote a tweet reminding people what we did last year and to gauge if there was interest to do it all again.

There was and Manchester stepped up yet again. With a push on social media from my colleagues here,  we managed to raise £190, including £60 which we donated to Big Issue North, with agreement from Colin, once he had reached his initial target.

Colin has had a bad chest infection but once this clears, he is off to Blackpool.

“I stay in the same place every time, as they know me,” said Colin.

When he found out he was going to be going again for the second year in a row, he was quite gobsmacked.

He said: “Please thank everyone. They are all really kind and I really do appreciate it.”

If you see Colin, please do buy a magazine from him if you can, or stop and have a natter. He loves chatting to everyone, helping people with directions and offering advice about what to see and do in Manchester.

For him Blackpool offers him the chance to escape to somewhere that he associates with his childhood. “I can’t wait to breathe in that sea air again,” he said.

Thanks, Manchester for coming through for this popular local legend. I could not have done it without you.

I would update you as to what Colin gets up on his weekend away but what happens in Blackpool stays in Blackpool.

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