Big Issue 600

Big Issue

Publishing Excellence Awards
Best Publisher-led Social Good Initiative or Campaign

50% of Big Issue Vendors did not have a smartphone. 70% of vendors were unable to accept cashless payments. And 87% of face to face transactions in the UK are made by contactless tech.

To tackle this challenge, giffgaff and Big Issue Group created a partnership and media campaign in the run up to Christmas 2023, providing 250 NFC-enabled refurbished iPhone handsets to vendors for free. These handsets simplified tap-to-pay cashless transactions for vendors, removing the requirement for a separate card reader plus a mobile phone – ensuring quicker, smoother, more reliable contactless payments, making the purchase process quicker and easier for customers, and improving vendors’ magazine sales by +35%.

This was the Big Issue’s first ever phone partnership with a mobile network, and the partnership with giffgaff builds on the Big Issue’s existing work to support vendors with cashless transactions. During the pandemic, the organisation’s frontline teams supplied vendors with card readers, allowing them to continue selling the magazine in line with health guidelines.

It also helped them get up to speed with an increasingly cashless society.

In an average week vendors sold five more magazines, adding up to £520 per year extra. As with much of the Big Issue’s work, the benefits aren’t just financial. Digital exclusion – the form of social inequality that affects people who don’t have internet access – often goes hand-in-hand with poverty. According to a 2022 Ofcom report, its highest among people like Big Issue’s vendors, who are in low socio-economic groups. Having] access to technology like smartphones is proven to help people affected by poverty, by increasing their connectivity while upping their skills and confidence, along with digital and financial training that the Big Issue provide.

The partnership launched in November leading up to the pre-Christmas period the Big Issue s busiest time of year with sales dramatically increasing. The Big Issue partnership with giffgaff helps vendors become cashless, connected and technologically confident.

In total, the campaign had a media and PR reach of 326 million, with 1.3 million people engaged on social. 66% of readers stated that they are more likely to purchase from giffgaff after seeing the campaign, and there was a +221% uplift in perception that giffgaff do the responsible thing for the environment and society.

This human-interest storytelling enabled us to show how Big Issue and giffgaff went to the heart of digital and financial inclusion for some of society’s most marginalised people. It is a sort of enablement, and of supporting those in society who need it the most whilst using refurbished phones. It is authentic, credible, and has “Purpose” at core.

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