A rare weekend off

Thanks to his customers fundraising for him, Manchester vendor Colin was able to enjoy a much needed seaside break

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A vendor in Manchester had a nice surprise recently when a regular customer helped him have a much-needed weekend away.

Colin, who sells Big Issue North outside Manchester’s HOME theatre and cinema, desperately wanted to take a short break to Blackpool but was unable to afford it.

“It had been a slow week with magazine sales,” Colin says, “and I had bills to pay.”

Colin is still catching up on bills having been unable to sell the magazine, his only source of earned income, throughout the pandemic lockdowns. He mentioned this to a regular customer called Glen and, a few weeks later, the customer returned with an envelope of money.

“He said he often raised money online for different charities,” says Colin. Glen, who was also raising money for the Manchester-based homeless charity Coffee4Craig at the time, had set up an online fundraising page to help Colin get away. He gave Colin more than £300, along with a card and messages of support from people who had donated money.

“You deserve this as you are a bit of a Home legend,” one contributor had written.

“Top bloke, Colin, who always kept us MST students entertained with a smile on his face – definitely deserves a much needed break,” said another.

Blackpool is close to Colin’s heart as he used to live there. “I worked as a kitchen porter in the Winter Gardens,” he says. “This is going back more than 20 years ago.”

On his first trip back in well over two years, Colin had a lovely time.

“It was great to have a break and just walk along the beach and get some fresh sea air.
I went to an Indian restaurant for a meal and in the evening I went out to a karaoke bar where I’ve been before. They all know me in there.”

And did he sing? “Oh yes, I did some singing! I sang a bit of Wet Wet Wet and at the end of the night, for my last song, I sang New York New York by Frank Sinatra and everyone was singing and dancing. It was really good.”

It turns out 54-year-old Colin has a bit of a history when it comes to karaoke, having won
a competition in Birmingham many years ago. “I won £250 and a crate of beer. I could have been an entertainer in another life!”

At the time of speaking to Big Issue North Colin was planning to return to Blackpool for another weekend with a friend, using the rest of the money that was raised for him. He’s got no other holiday plans for the year, but is there anywhere he’d like to go, given the chance?

“I once went to Cornwall many years ago. That was nice. I’d love to go back there. I’ve never been abroad.”

Would he get on a plane?

“You’d have to blindfold me first!” he laughs. “But yeah. Never say never. Maybe when I win the lottery.”

Colin’s not alone in not being able to afford to get away on holiday. Many vendors can’t afford to take time off from selling the magazine and so don’t get the chance for a break. Colin himself says he can only afford a weekend away every so often, and couldn’t afford a whole week without selling the magazine.

“I just want to thank everyone who donated,” says Colin. “It made my weekend. I was over the moon and I really appreciate it.”

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