BillyChip can then be passed on to rough sleepers and homeless people as an alternative to cash , which they can then redeem for food , drink or – in the future – other products .
Outlets joining the scheme receive a starter pack containing BillyChips and point-of-sale materials . Each month , they supply details of chips sold and redeemed and receive a payment to cover the costs of redeeming a BillyChip . Volunteers are helping spread the word too , encouraging their local cafés and outlets to get involved .
For those who want to give something to support someone on the streets , it removes any hesitancy about giving money to a rough sleeper . Instead of worrying that money will be used for drugs and alcohol , the BillyChip ensures that any exchange is only for food and drink . Using a BillyChip also promotes human interaction and conversation , without the worry that the person handing over the chip might be contributing to a habit .
BRINGING BACK CHOICE BillyChip also means those on the streets can go into a café or restaurant to order and pay for a food or drink item of their choice – and it ’ s this choice that ’ s a vital part of the equation . It recognises that those who are homeless may have their own dietary issues , as well as particular likes and dislikes . Being able to order a coffee with a particular type of milk , or a gluten-free sandwich with a favourite filling is important too , especially for that individual ’ s self-esteem given the particular challenges they are facing .
GROWING THE SCHEME ACROSS THE UK After establishing ourselves in Bristol , BillyChip enjoyed some great local support – firstly with independent cafés , and then further afield . Some of our local emergency services started championing BillyChip too , with the police community support officers ( PCSOs ) in our local police force , Avon and Somerset Police , wearing interactive BillyChips on their uniforms to help raise awareness . The PCSOs use the chips as a reminder of the scheme and to create a talking point with the community as they go about their work .
As the scheme picked up pace and expanded across the South West we began working on a partnership with Greggs , who are currently trialling BillyChip in seven of their outlets across Bristol city centre . And we ’ re also in the process of launching the scheme in London , through our partnership with Change Please and AMT Coffee .
SPREADING OUR REACH Our work has seen us being able to offer BillyChip across a growing number of outlets in the UK , but we ’ re determined to do more . The aim is to spread kindness and compassion to the homeless community and ensure that the BillyChip is available in every high street across the UK .
We also want the concept of a cashless currency to develop further to support the homeless community . As we expand , it ’ s clear that BillyChip ’ s potential can grow . For example , even some of the charities with retail outlets whose remit is to help the homeless don ’ t offer them any concessions , making their retail offerings inaccessible to the very people they are intended to help . We ’ re hoping that the BillyChip can overcome this and allow rough sleepers to buy clothes and other items from these shops .
There ’ s a lot we can – and want to – do , and we ’ ve been encouraged by how our simple scheme has been so recognised and adopted in a fairly short space of time .
Find out more about our work at www . billychip . com
Top : After joining the BillyChip scheme members receive a starter pack containing BillyChips , stickers , cards , posters and decals .
‘ You ’ re fabulous and don ’ t you ever forget it !’
Billy ’ s much-loved phrase is printed on every BillyChip . The words don ’ t just mean a lot to his family – they send a clear message to the person buying or exchanging the chip too .
Right : Meg Abernethy- Hope and John Hope outside a Greggs outlet . Greggs are currently trialling BillyChip in seven outlets across Bristol .
Left : Avon and Somerset PCSOs carry the tokens on their stab vests and guide homeless people to the nearest shop that accepts them .
WWW . DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS . COM OCTOBER 2022 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 7