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Big Issue seller becomes first in the city to use contactless card reader technology

PUBLISHED: 11:56 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:56 17 July 2019

Big Issue seller Simon Gravell, 51, who is using a card reader after discovering fewer people are using money. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Big Issue seller Simon Gravell, 51, who is using a card reader after discovering fewer people are using money. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

SOPHIE WYLLIE

For many people, carrying money is becoming a thing of the past.

And to keep up with changes in technology a well-known Norwich Big Issue seller has started using a card reader, as well as accepting cash.

Simon Gravell, 51, who rents a private room in Norwich, adopted the small piece of equipment at the start of July and has said the response from customers has been "positive".

He decided to use the technology for contactless card payments after increasing competition from other Norwich Big Issue sellers over the past six months.

Mr Gravell, who used to sleep rough in Norwich until just over a year ago, said he was the only Big Issue vendor in the city to use a card reader.

He said: "I'm a total Luddite when it comes to technology. I thought if I ignored it long enough it would go away but the market is demanding it. The card reader is quick and easy to use."

Mr Gravell was keen to let Norwich residents and visitors know he had the £30 technology, as some did not believe him.

The former chef was pleased he had made the switch to the card reader.

He believes the only other Big Issue seller using a card reader in East Anglia was in Cambridge.

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His journey to homelessness began in 2008 after being made redundant from Chapman's Seafoods in Grimsby, due to the Icelandic financial crisis.

He sold fishcakes at farmers' markets for the business and before that was a restaurant chef for 22 years.

Mr Gravell has sold the Big Issue for the past nine years, eight of them being in Norwich.

The 51-year-old came to Norwich after visiting Cromer in search of fishery work.

He now calls the city his "home".

He said: "I love people in Norwich."

The vendor slept on the streets behind All Saints Antiques Centre on All Saints Street for five years.

He added: "Selling the Big Issue helps me keep my head above water. My priority is to get my rent paid first. You don't realise how much you take a bed for granted until you sleep on the floor for five years."

There are now between 30 and 40 Big Issue sellers in Norwich and there are nine areas where they can work.

Mr Gravell works Monday to Sunday and has ambitions to start an antiques business.

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