A special ‘poker chip’ scheme that gives members of the public the chance to donate hot drinks to homeless people is set to launch at more than 400 Co-op stores in the UK. It was created by the family of Billy Abernethy-Hope, a paramedic who died in 2018.
People will have the opportunity to purchase a blue ‘Billy Chip’ for £2 from participating shops, hand it to anyone in need who can then exchange it for a piping hot cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. The ‘pay it forward’ chip will act as a way to give homeless people more freedom and choice, as well as an opportunity to motivate reluctant members of communities to help out.
The scheme is set to come into effect at around 440 Central Co-op branches across the country on March 27, which is the fifth anniversary of Billy’s death after a motorcycle accident in Thailand. It had previously been trailed at Greggs outlets.
Billy Abernethy-Hope’s dad, John 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.”
Hannah Gallimore, social change manager at Central Co-op, said: “Billy Chip is such a simple way to spread kindness to those who need it, and we are pleased we can make that possible in our stores.