When Big Issue reader Joe Wilson praised his local vendor Daniel Collins on Facebook last weekend, he couldn’t have guessed what would happen next. It made Joe – and our man Daniel – an internet phenomenon.
Joe, 41, an educational assessor, went to Old Salty’s on Glasgow’s Byres Road for breakfast – the same as he does every Saturday morning. However, when he went to pay, he was left stunned to find out his bill had already been covered by Daniel, who sells The Big Issue across the road outside Hillhead Library.
“Every Saturday for two years Joe comes over for a chat and very kindly always asks if I want a coffee or a roll from the shop,” Daniel, 42, tells The Big Issue. “It was the least I could do to return the favour.”
Bowled over by Daniel’s generosity, Joe took to Facebook and – at the time of writing – his post (below) has been shared over 26,000 times and picked up by everyone from The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror.
‘Today, when I went to pay for my breakfast and get Daniel a coffee, the girl in the café told me it had already been paid for… by Daniel,’ Joe wrote. ‘When I went to see him, he told me that it had made him happy that I’d had a nice surprise and it was his way of showing his appreciation for the coffees and the chats.’
“I’d had a good few days and thought he’d appreciate it,” Daniel explained.
“It’s quite funny that it went so mental. People keeping telling me they saw me on Facebook, and then I was in the papers. I sold a couple more magazines after it, so hopefully that continues.”
A popular character in Glasgow’s West End, Daniel started selling The Big Issue five years ago when addiction and a gambling problem spiralled out of control. He lost his family, his girlfriend and his home. “I was in a bad way,” he admits. “It started more than 10 years ago. I didn’t have a bad upbringing or a bad family. It was my own problems and I had addiction issues. It all just went downhill.
“Then there was the gambling. I became hooked on the slot machines. They ruin people’s lives and shouldn’t be allowed. I don’t touch them now.
“Things got better from when I got help – when I started going to classes, and started selling The Big Issue. Talking to people every day, learning to budget and sell – honestly, that’s priceless. I had a real problem with money and it put me in a bad place. Now I’m good at managing costs, paying my bills, trying to save.
“I’ve been clean for nearly a year and got myself a nice wee place to live. I’m back in touch with my family, my regulars are great with me, I’ve got a good flat and I’m working hard to make a living. I’m in a good place.”
After more than a decade of instability, Daniel hopes to move from selling The Big Issue soon and wants to help others overcome the problems that he’s left behind. “I’m looking into being referred for a course that will let me train and get qualifications. I’ve lived the life where addiction and gambling takes you over, and I really think I’ve got what it takes to help people that are going through what I did, who want to get better.”