A year with the amazing team at BillyChip
Posted on 16th December 22
As out charity partnership with BillyChip® comes to an end, we look back at how the charity has grown during that time and the amazing work they continue to do for rough sleepers in the South West and across the UK.
BillyChip® was chosen by Bath Building Society colleagues and Members to be our Charity of the Year for 2022. The social enterprise provides a safe and secure currency for homeless people and it is the first scheme of its type in the UK. Many people feel hesitant about giving cash to rough sleepers, concerned that it could be misused for drugs or alcohol, but the BillyChip overcomes these obstacles, ensuring that any exchange is only for food and drink. Using a BillyChip means that you can still enjoy human interaction and conversation, without the worry that you might be contributing to a habit.
The BillyChip was created by Billy Abernethy-Hope, a 20-year-old ambulance driver from Chew Valley. Billy always felt sad about the lack of support and direct donations for the homeless community and was determined to find a way to help. Tragically in March 2018, whilst travelling in Thailand, Billy died in a motorbike accident so never got to see the BillyChip in action. Billy’s sister Meg and dad Jon brought his idea to life and are now changing the homeless scene.
Since establishing BillyChip they’ve enjoyed lots of support from celebrities including Paul Weller, Tyson Fury, Tom Kerridge, Russell Brand, and our very own local celebrities Martin Roberts and Russell Howard. They all love Billy’s simple and effective idea, how it works and what a difference it makes.
As an organisation they’ve enjoyed many defining moments over the past 12 months. Earlier this year they were announced as highly commended at the Bristol Life Awards, finalists in the National Start Up Awards and just last month BillyChip were finalists at the prestigious Great British Entrepreneur Awards held in London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. They have also appeared on numerous television and radio shows – both the in UK and around the world. Jon and Meg have been invited to talk about BillyChip on BBC Breakfast, GB News, ITV News, Sunday Morning Live and across local BBC radio stations in the South West. They’ve also been featured in many national newspapers and magazines including The Times, The Guardian, Country Life and our very own Bath Life magazine.
BillyChip is reliant on donations from organisations, the public and businesses to further expand the scheme. Jon Hope, Co-founder said:
“We have a lot of work to do recruiting new coffee shops and cafes to the scheme. It has been a challenging time for everyone over the past two years. BillyChip is a new approach to providing support to homeless people and we do things differently. We have created a safe, secure circular economy which brings hope, compassion and revenue to the homeless sector. We continue to push on to reach our goal of 1,000 outlets across the UK. This is the number of outlets we project we need to be self-sufficient as an organisation. When we hit that figure, we will no longer need external funding and we will be able to continue to provide grants to other worthy causes.”
So far BillyChip has funded local projects like Street Vet, Suicide Prevention and Lizzies Soup Run in Bath, with plans well under way to provide temporary living accommodation for the homeless in 2023.
The BillyChip Team held the first CEO sleepout in Bristol this year, attended by high profile business leaders, some local celebrities and sporting legends. They came together to raise sponsorship by sleeping rough for one night in November, which just happened to fall on the coldest night of the year so far. Many of those taking part said it really gave some insight into the challenges homeless people face every night of the year. A stark reminder for those brave individuals taking part on how difficult and challenging rough sleeping is, not only physically but mentally as well. Everyone who took part was keen to pledge their allegiance to next year’s event which we promise will be bigger and better. Anyone who wishes to take part can contact email@example.com
The event raised £35,000 which will be split between BillyChip and another homeless charity in Bristol.
The BillyChip team (which also consist of Billy’s best friend Jack and the latest addition to the team, apprentice Lizzie, in charge of social media) have hit some key milestones this year from discussions with global organisations about taking BillyChip down under to Australia, to launching the scheme in the nations’ favourite high street bakers Greggs.
”Billy would be very proud of what we have achieved, but he would also think we are a little crazy taking his idea and bringing it to life in his absence. Over the last three years we have learnt so much about the homeless community and the generosity of others. We recognise we wouldn’t have been able to achieve so much without the incredible support given to us. We were very proud to have been named Charity of the Year for Bath Building Society and grateful to be able to showcase what we do with such an established and well-respected local business.
Our aim is to spread kindness and compassion to the homeless community and ensure that the BillyChip is available in as many Bath outlets as possible.”
Find out more about our work at www.billychip.com