Advertorial from giffgaff

Empowering Change: Big Issue and giffgaff are making a difference with refurbished phones for vendors

Discover the transformative impact of Big Issue's collaboration with giffgaff, distributing 250 refurbished phones to vendors nationwide, simplifying cashless transactions and fostering digital inclusion, environmental sustainability, and community empowerment.

Illustration: Fernando Volken Togni

Advertorial from giffgaff

Last month, Big Issue launched ​​its partnership with giffgaff, and since then our frontline teams have been busy getting 250 refurbished phones into the hands of vendors across the country, allowing them to accept cashless​ payments without the need for a card reader. 

Not only are vendors – and customers – benefitting from this convenient payment option, they also benefit from the connectivity that giffgaff’s high quality, reliable phones bring. By supplying refurbished phones to help reduce e-waste, it’s good for the environment too. 

Vendors who have been supplied with new phones say the partnership is already making a difference. Daniel Novac, a 29-year-old father of four from Romania, has been selling The Big Issue for four years in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire. “I’ve been given the new phone and I’m very pleased with it,” he says. “It’s better than when I used a card reader as it’s so easy to use and my customers are happy.” 

Customers can just tap against the phone to pay.

Brigitta – Big Issue vendor
Big Issue vendor Brigitta Claudia at her pitch on Argyle Street in Glasgow. ©Exposure Photo Agency Ltd

Brigitta Claudia, who is also originally from Romania, has been a vendor for over seven years, with a pitch on Argyle Street in Glasgow. The 33-year-old has been cashless for a year, but has run into problems with her existing tech. “My other phone was not very good, I had it for about five years and it was secondhand when I got it,” she explains. “But now I’m happy because I’ve got my new phone, and it’s easy – customers can just tap against the phone to pay.”  

As well as using the phone for sales – which, as a mother of two, will make a huge difference in the run-up to Christmas – Claudia is relieved to have reliable communication with friends and family. “I have a lot of friends in Romania,” she explains. “I like to have a good screen ​so I can​​​​​ video call them.” 

Claudia is just one of The Big Issue’s many Roma vendors. Around the start of the giffgaff partnership, we also welcomed outreach assistant Leventica Paun to the Big Issue team. A member of the Roma community and former vendor, Paun helps our Roma vendors with translation and outreach work – including help to go cashless. After two months in post, she’s seeing the wider benefits that digital inclusion can bring.  

Paun is already making an impact, both with practical assistance and as a Roma voice within The Big Issue. “I’m trying to make change in the community,” she explains. “I’m here to make sure that when a Roma vendor wants support, they feel comfortable speaking to someone. This is the kind of job that I’ve always wanted.” 

Paun’s journey to joining Big Issue’s frontline team began while she was a vendor, when she took part in our ​Equal to Equal peer mentoring project, which offers vendors paid training to build transferable skills
for employment.  

Another Roma vendor who has taken part in Equal to Equal is London-based Marsilia Cimpeanu. After being set up with a new phone through the giffgaff partnership she was thrilled to help others in her community. “There was a gentleman whose English wasn’t very good,” she says. “He was trying to go home from his pitch, but he didn’t know how to use Google Maps. I showed him and he was amazed. A lot of Roma people, especially the elderly ones, aren’t brought up with that technology. The Big Issue has helped me, so why not pass on that help?” 

A lot of Roma people, especially the elderly ones, aren’t brought up with that technology. The Big Issue has helped me, so why not pass on that help?

Big Issue vendor Brigitta Claudia at her pitch on Argyle Street in Glasgow. ©Exposure Photo Agency Ltd

Like us, giffgaff ​is​ passionate about equipping people with tools and support to build their digital skills. ​Earlier this​​ ​year, CEO Ash Schofield pioneered the giffgaff Tech Academy for people facing barriers into tech. “They’re bringing so much more than just technical ​ability​,” Schofield tells us of the group, who all now work as software engineers at giffgaff. “They’re a diverse group of people, so the perspective they bring into the business is very valuable.”

Like the Big Issue Group, giffgaff is a registered B Corp: a company certi­fied as equally committed to people and planet as it is to profit. When it comes to social and environmental issues, Schofield sees everything as intertwined. He says: “Our employees and our customers can all play a part in ensuring ​that we continue to do more and make a positive impact​.”​​     ​​ 

Whether you’re a member or not, you can recycle your phone with giffgaff. And it’s really simple. If the phone is in a saleable condition based on one of the four conditions giffgaff sells, it can be sold on by giffgaff as a refurbished phone. If it’s not, then giffgaff sends the phone to be recycled by stripping down the phone, getting all the good stuff from it, like minerals and metals, and using them to repair other phones. If you’re looking for a phone, you can choose one of giffgaff’s reliable, good value refurbished handsets – just like the ones Big Issue vendors are using. For buying refurb, giffgaff is the go-to place. 

Last year, 75% of phones sold to customers were refurbished. “Our plan is to help create a circular economy,” Schofield says, “encouraging people to trade in their phones so they can be put to good use in the future.” ​​ 

Giff Gaff App / Big Issue. Pictured Big Issue vendor Daniel Novac on his pitch at Tesco in Wishaw , North Lanarkshire Scotland. Image: ©Exposure Photo Agency

We’re encouraging people to trade in their phones so they can be put to good use in the future.

Ash Schofield – giffgaff CEO

​​I​f everyone does their bit to help people and planet, a lot can change – just like giving vendors a phone can make a huge difference to their lives. It also encourages others to follow suit. “By doing what we do well,​ and always striving to do better,​ we’re trying to inspire other companies,” Schofield concludes. ​     ​

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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