Chris Beveridge started the Hastings Card in 2015 after volunteering at a Foodbank session. Chris spoke with a man called Ray who was a qualified tree surgeon who had fallen on hard times. After receiving his food allocation, Ray asked for money to put on electric meter so he could cook his meals. The foodbank was able to help him with this request.
This got Chris thinking. People who are street homeless or in temporary accommodation could sell the Big Issue. What if there was something that local people in crisis could sell? Could that bridge the gap between sanctions & benefit delays. They could then use the money to purchase whatever they needed to make life a little more bearable.
Chris’ solution was a plastic card, a website & app that would promote local independent businesses. In return, the businesses would offer a discount, 2for1 or free drink when the card was shown. The discounts wouldn’t be one offs, they could be used again & again. Chris did this without loans, going from business to business with his idea & selling the cards at markets & online.
In just three years over 350 fantastic businesses are participating, selling the cards and gaining new & regular customers. The card is now part of a wider brand, which Chris established, Town City Cards, and other local cards (1066 Card, Hailsham Card, Eastbourne Card etc) have been printed. All of the cards can be used across Sussex.
Chris thought it would be better to start a company rather than a charity. To date all profits have been reinvested into company. Why go public now? Chris didn’t want a sympathy purchase. He wants this to be a viable business model, like the Big Issue that can help our local communities.
The next step is to develop a partnership with a charity that can administer the cards to local people in crisis.