October 11, 2023

How Mobile Technology Has Helped Big Issue Vendors Bounce Back Since The Covid-19 Pandemic.

In the fifth episode of the Live Better Connected podcast, Mobile UK welcomes the well-known social enterprise, the Big Issue Group.  

As a social enterprise, the Big Issue Group brings together media, investment, and service initiatives to unlock social and economic opportunities for those struggling with poverty, enabling them to earn, learn and thrive.

In this podcast episode, we welcome Penny Walster, Service Development Director at the Big Issue Group, who sits with our Director of Policy and Communications, Gareth Elliott, to discuss how mobile technology has supported Big Issue vendors bounceback since the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.

One of the methods the Big Issue Group employs to help its vendors earn a legitimate income is through the sale of the Big Issue magazine to members of the public. This magazine, distributed since 1991, is the world's most widely circulated street newspaper.

During the podcast, Penny reflects on when the lockdown restrictions lifted and people returned to the streets, with the Big Issue team recognising that 'COVID interventions' had changed public behaviours. This ‘new normal’ meant fewer people carrying cash due to Government recommendations and an increased reliance on purchases made through mobile and internet connections.

It had become important to support vendors to adapt. To do this, the Big Issue Group accelerated a rollout of card readers powered by mobile connectivity; before lockdown, 193 Big Issue vendors offered cashless payment, and now there are over 594.

Penny explained how since the introduction of cashless payments powered by mobile technology, vendors have seen increases of up to 40% in magazine sales. She also offers real-life case studies that illustrate both the immediate and vital economic support and the long-term impact, aiding vendors to expand their interests and career pursuits.

Watch or listen to this interesting and heartwarming episode, which details the numerous benefits mobile connectivity can provide, and how social inclusion barriers are being addressed through technological support.  

You can access the podcast episode featuring Penny Walster on our YouTube channel here. If you would like to find out more about The Big Issue Group, click here.  

As part of our Live Better Connected campaign, we encourage you to participate in our How Connected Are You? challenge to find out what type of mobile user you are. We have also launched a brand new educational tool to challenge the thinking around the role of mobile connectivity in our daily lives.

Please subscribe to the Mobile UK YouTube channel for notifications of future episodes and remember, you can nominate guests for future episodes by getting in touch:

About Building Mobile Britain

Building Mobile Britain logo

Building Mobile Britain is a campaign created by Mobile UK seeking to work with national and local government, as well as interested industry groups to overcome the challenges we face with expanding the existing mobile networks, while also developing innovative services for customers.

See here for further information - or #BuildingMobileBritain

Media Contacts

Gareth Elliott
Head of Policy and Communications
Tel: 07887 911 076

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