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'I support The Big Issue and everything it stands for' Andy Burnham sells The Big Issue magazine in Manchester

The Greater Manchester Mayor donned a red tabard and sold the magazine in Manchester alongside his local vendor Colin to gain an insight into what it’s like to be a Big Issue seller

Andy Burnham with Big Issue vendor Colin

Andy Burnham sells the Big Issue with vendor Colin at HOME in Manchester. Image: Rebecca Lupton

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has donned a Big Issue tabard to try his hand at selling the magazine and gain an insight into what it’s like to earn a living as a vendor.

The 53-year-old sold the magazine alongside veteran vendor Colin outside HOME in Manchester city centre on Thursday afternoon.

Burnham is the cover star of this week’s Big Issue magazine across the north of England and joined Colin on his pitch to support his local vendor.

Burnham said: “I’m out here doing my bit. It’s nice to spend time with the most famous man in Greater Manchester. Truly, Colin is much-loved and I have got to know him quite well over the years since I became mayor.

“We’ve had a really big change with The Big Issue but it’s still a really important thing and a big part in helping people moving on from where they are and we really support it.

“I’m out here showing Colin I support him and supporting The Big Issue more broadly, everything it stands for, everything it’s done, everything it’s achieved. A lot of people in Greater Manchester are fully behind it and we always will be.”

Andy Burnham and Big Issue vendor Colin
Andy Burnham and Colin have got to know each other well since Burnham became Mayor of Greater Manchester in 2017. Image: Rebecca Lupton

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Burnham is one of Colin’s regular customers. The vendor was living in a Salvation Army hostel in Birmingham when he first started selling the magazine to earn an income.

He moved to Manchester in 2010 and has been selling the magazine in the city ever since.

In a recent interview with The Big Issue, Colin said the pair “chat all the time”.

He said it was a good experience to show the Manchester mayor what it’s like to be in a vendor’s shoes.

Colin said: “I’ve known Andy about seven years since I was selling the magazine at the Cornerhouse and moved to here. I see him regularly, he comes here a lot and he usually buys a Big Issue.

“A couple of weeks ago he came past and said, ‘I’ll give you the money and pick up a magazine off you next time’ so I’ve just given him a magazine with a picture of me in it from a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s nice to have the support of the Mayor of Greater Manchester, we have a good chat.”

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

In an exclusive interview with The Big Issue in this week’s magazine, the Manchester mayor speaks out on his efforts to tackle homelessness across Greater Manchester, as well as Prince William’s own homelessness campaign and moving beyond the culture wars that have polluted political debate in Westminster.

He also reflects on his previous encounters selling The Big Issue before the pandemic.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “It’s a street level insight into the world of people and it could be any of us, couldn’t it? Because of the way life is nowadays.

“I always say this: I think we’re all just a couple of bits of bad luck away from being there and I think putting yourself in the shoes, even just for an hour, of somebody in that position is largely affirming.”

Big Issue vendor Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham is the cover star of The Big Issue across the north of England this week. Image: Rebecca Lupton

Thursday’s spell in the iconic red tabard was the first time the Manchester mayor had sold the magazine while his face was on the cover.

Burnham said: “It’s not the easiest to be honest, I’ve just bought one off Colin to give to my mum. It’s not easy because I think people are doing a bit of a double take at times. It’s a bit of an odd thing to do.

“I’m just really proud to be on the front [of the magazine] and to support Colin and everything that he does. A lot of people like to stop to chat to Colin and he’s a really friendly face around the city, he really adds something to Greater Manchester and we’re really proud of him.”

The Big Issue magazine has been sold across the UK since May following The Big Issue North’s decision to cease publication of its magazine in the north of England.

Vendors buy magazines for £2 and sell them on for £4. Customers can also subscribe with a vendor online, which provides a vital additional source of regular income.

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

Support our vendors this winter and beyond

If you can't visit your local vendor on a regular basis, then the next best way to support them is with a subscription to the Big Issue. As a social enterprise, we invest every penny we make back into the organisation. That means that with every subscription, we are supporting people in poverty to get back on their own two feet.
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