It was November 2014, and Polly was in Vauxhall on a particularly cold night. She saw a homeless man shivering in a doorway, so bought a £4 overpriced hot dog from a vendor nearby and took it over to the man.
He said "thanks so much love, but I've already had four tonight - I can't have another!"
Thousands of micro-donations to help the homeless happen in our cities every day. But most of them don't create sustainable change. £16 worth of dodgy meat certainly doesn't.
So we created TAP. A way to give to homelessness that is easy, and can make a real difference.
We employ homeless individuals as vendors, paying them London Living wage (£9.75 an hour). They sell £3 TAP cards, processing the payments safely through contactless charity boxes.
Of a £3 purchase, £2 goes to helping that individual and £1 is donated to local organisations helping to tackle homelessness.
And TAP cards? They're art cards, featuring a weekly news story told by a local artist. A hybrid of instagram and journalism, if you collect all 52 cards then you have the story of the city that year told by the artists that live there.
We also have stand-alone contactless boxes in cafes and pubs. Splash proof and hassle-free, they sit and take donations to support the broader work of the vendors.
We launched our street vending model just four weeks ago, and are employing five individuals. They are able to pay for their own hostels to keep them off the streets. But also, they are rebuilding their footprints. Our vendors pay taxes (which oddly, they are thrilled about!), and are making a contribution to society. They feel valued, and take pride in their work. They feel passionately about the art, and the charities they are supporting. Over 800 members of the public have bought TAP cards from our vendors, the reaction to the concept has been overwhelmingly positive.
Our organisation is funded by The Hunter Foundation. We are a non-profit, registered as a CIC. We submitted an application to the charity commission in October.
Our aim is to grow TAP across London (10 employees by the end of January), and begin expanding to other cities. We believe Manchester would be the perfect city to begin with; given its uptake of contactless, thriving art scene and innovative government.