Virgin Media O2 is working with Big Issue Group to offer free O2 SIMs and data vouchers to all Big Issue vendors in the UK this Christmas. The move is an extension of last year’s initiative, when O2 gave over 200 Big Issue vendors free data plans, enabling them to take contactless payments. 52 per cent of Big Issue magazine sales are via contactless, rising to 90 per cent in the UK, and on average, vendors who use contactless make 35 per cent more than those who don’t.
Big Issue vendor Darren Brown from Middlesbrough is one of the vendors who benefitted from last year’s campaign. He said: “I’ve never been a technology person, but they showed me how to use it and access the internet. If a customer is looking for somewhere, I help them with the maps on my phone, and I’ve even had my supermarket shopping delivered. The O2 SIM card is the best thing I’ve ever had through The Big Issue.”
Gareth Turpin, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Media O2 said: “This year we wanted our Christmas campaign to not only help raise awareness of the support available via the National Databank, but to get data into the hands of those facing an unconnected Christmas.
“As part of this, we’re proud to be partnering with the Big Issue for the second year in a row to offer all vendors access to free mobile data each month. We know from the success of last year that this connectivity is crucial to facilitating mobile payments in an increasingly cashless society as well as helping vendors to stay connected to loved ones and get access to key services.”
The roll-out of data plans to Big Issue vendors comes as part of Virgin Media O2’s wider commitment to tackling data poverty. Partnering with national digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation, the company pioneered the National Databank – like a foodbank but for data – in 2021 which provides free mobile connectivity to people who need it, pledging to donate 61m GB of free data by the end of 2025.
The company also recently announced that the Databank would be accessible on the high street for the first time via 10 O2 stores across the UK, and has put the Databank front and centre of O2’s major new festive advertising campaign with the O2 Christmas SIM Cards.