Virgin Media O2 offers free mobile data to all Big Issue vendors

Rodney, a Big Issue seller
Virgin Media O2
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
2 December 2022

Last Christmas, Virgin Media O2 gave 200 Big Issue vendors free data so they could take contactless payments. This year, the telecoms company is giving it to all Big Issue vendors.

As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, Big Issue vendors across the UK will receive monthly data on an O2 SIM card. 90% of transactions are now via contactless, which makes vendors’ access to data crucial in order to successfully sell the magazine. The Big Issue has found that vendors who use contactless make 30% more than those who do not.

Stevie Paterson from Edinburgh, one of the Big Issue vendors given O2 data last year, explained: “The O2 SIM was really important to me. It meant I could set myself up on Zettle to accept contactless payments – now, it’s how I sell about half my magazines.”

Big Issue vendor Darren Brown from Middlesbrough, who was also part of last year’s data roll-out, 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 added: “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.”

Lawrence Chaser, Big Issue vendor
Louise Haywood-Schiefer

The roll-out of data plans to Big Issue vendors comes as part of Virgin Media O2’s wider commitment to tackling data poverty. It has teamed up with national digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation to pioneer the National Databank, which is like a food bank but for data. Virgin Media O2 also recently announced that the Databank will be available on the UK highstreet for the first time via 10 O2 stores.

Visit Virgin Media O2 to find out more.