An estimated 320,000 people are homeless in the UK, according to the latest research by Shelter. This equates to one in every 201 Brits and was an increase of four per cent on the previous year’s number.www.bigissue.com
As shops on the high street diminsh leaving nothing but boarded shop windows, the sad truth is all that thrives is rising numbers of homeless, sleeping rough in the empty doorways. Passerbys veering round avoiding eye contact. Of course, some of those simply don’t want to help “they are at fault to end up on the streets”. For many it is not cold heartedness that forces them to look away, but disquiet trepidation: cash donations will only fuel addictions of alcohol and drugs.
Homeless figures are likely to be an underestimate of the problem as they do not capture people who experience hidden homelessness, such as sofa surfers, and others living insecurely.www.shelter.org.uk
One young man Billy Abernethy-Hope a 20 year old ambulance driver from Bristol, had since childhood been troubled by the issue of homelessness, and the apprehension of the general public to help. He recognised the challenges, and forged a vision of a token that could be purchased by the public and passed on to the homeless in exchange for a hot drink or food. Sadly soon after his idea, in March 2018 while backpacking in Thailand, Billy was killed in a motorcycle accident.
This could have been the tragic end of the tale. But no! Billys family were determined to see his idea become reality. In his home city of Bristol, the public can now purchase Billy Chips for £2 from participating retailers. These can then be passed on to homeless individuals and redeemed for hot or cold drinks (some businesses offer more). The blue tokens resemble a poker chip, containing on one side an image of Billys smiling face and on the other the quote:
You’re fabulous, and don’t you ever forget it.Billy Abernethy-Hope
These were the words Billy wote on a homemade mothers day card shortly before his death.
This young mans untimely tragic death has left a powerful legacy. Billy Chips have the potential to go nationwide and even international, offering an outlet for a random act of kindness providing hope to millions.