A Day Out With Brixton Pound

Original article posted on Exeter Pound Blog
http://exeterpound.tumblr.com/post/147847016500/a-day-out-with-brixton-pound

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Photo above: the site of the old shop

On Monday 11th July Mel from Exeter Pound, along with the guys from Birmingham Pound, Good Money CIC and Bristol Pound downed tools and travelled up to London for the day to meet with Tom from Brixton Pound. Tom had invited us all to have a look round their Brixton Pound shop and cash machine and to chat about the other initiatives they are currently involved in.

We met at Brixton Pound’s brand new shop premises on Atlantic Road (London). Tom explained that whilst the previous shop was very close to the heart of Brixton, it wasn’t all that welcoming a place and they hoped that, by making the new venue a ‘pay what you can’ (but only in Brixton Pounds!) café and shop with an open door policy, it’ll become a better hub.

He added that at the beginning, Brixton Pound was driven largely by the belief that the local currency could make a tangible economic impact, but that the team have decided to refocus on their core values and aim to ‘change the conversation’ through successive projects (i.e. Brixton Bonus and the Brixton Fund). These core values include: having fun (and not taking themselves too seriously!); changing the conversation; introducing new ideas; having an open door policy; democracy and activism.

He also said that they realised it was their network of members who are more important than the currency itself.

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Photo above:  Tom tells us about Brixton Pound’s evolving story at their new premises on Atlantic Rd. 

Brixton Pound Projects

Brixton Fund

The fund started with a pledge to make a monthly donation out of the transaction fee pot. They hold events where shortlisted beneficiaries are invited, told they will all receive some part of the award fund and are asked to present their causes to the public. Members of the public in turn are given voting tokens and can put up to 5 in each of five jars representing each cause (similar to the green tokens you get at the checkout in Waitrose). The awards are then distributed according to how many tokens each cause/organisation gets.

The fund, which was set up about a year ago, holds award rounds bi-annually and grants are up to £Br2000, favouring people or organisations who have not yet had access to grant funding.

Brixton Bonus

The Brixton Bonus is registered as a small social lottery with Lambeth council and its purpose is to raise money for the Brixton Fund. It relies on business sponsorship, non-members can play and there are rewards for people who sign up to play regularly. The proceeds are split between Brixton Pound and the Brixton Fund, with Brixton Pound pledging never to take more than 50% for its own development and never more than £3000 a month.

Other initiatives

“Brewster’s millions”

Every year someone wins £Br250 with the condition that they have to spend it all in one day! The winner is accompanied by a photographer as they visit various Brixton Pound businesses trying to spend it.

Individual membership

When people refer a friend to Brixton Pound, they get £Br5 credit in a friend referral scheme.

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Photo above: the Brixton Pound cash machine!

The Brixton Pound Cash Machine

This little gem is something we were particularly excited about seeing! The Brixton Pound cash machine is a vending machine near the entrance to the market, with text explaining what it’s all about written on one side. Tom said it’s been a great conversation starter (falling in line with their core values) and has attracted a fair bit of interest from the media.

Brixton Pound’s plans for the future

Tom explained that Brixton Pound are currently renewing their website and plan to create separate sites for the two key projects, Brixton Bonus and Brixton Fund which have really taken off. They’ve also teamed up with the London Design Festival to set up a competition for people to design Brixton Pound merchandise.

Corporate structure

Brixton Pound was set up in 2011 as a CIC (Community Interest Company, same as Exeter Pound). Their next move is to register the project as a charity.

Thanks for a fun and informative day, Brixton Pound!