A blue “poker chip” that can be given to homeless people and exchanged for a hot drink will soon be dealt out in over 250 Co-op supermarkets.
Created by the family of Billy Abernethy-Hope, a paramedic who died in 2018, shoppers buy the “Billy Chip” for £2, hand it to anyone in need of help, and they can then exchange it at a participating shop.
The “pay it forward” chip had been trialled at Greggs, and will launch in over 250 Central Co-op branches across the country on March 27 – the fifth anniversary of Billy’s death.
Jon Hope, Billy’s dad, said the chips are a way to encourage otherwise reluctant members of the public to help those on the street, and offer the recipient more freedom and choice than simply being bought a drink.
Ahead of the chip’s supermarket launch, Hope told The Big Issue: “We always envisioned supermarkets redeeming Billy Chip for a meal deal and the team at Co-op Central were right onboard with the concept. They are also helping rough sleepers and homeless people get access to hot drinks through the instore Costa & Insomnia coffee machines which is fantastic.
“Billy Chip is all about creating compassion, connections and choice for homeless people and through this partnership we can provide support to people across the midlands. I really hope this will be the catalyst to see more high street outlets sign up to our free scheme.”