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Some Stories from LETS Members...

Chris, a painter and decorator, earned 1300 LETS (1/5th of his turnover) last year. He said LETS was invaluable whenever money was tight, and also attracted work paid for in hard cash.

     He was selling his house, and had all the plumbing, electrical rewiring, central heating and carpentry done on LETS.

     LETS also enabled his wife Sue to take a part time job. She used childminding, which is much more affordable on LETS than normal childminding rates and allowed her to work part-time.

     They also had low-cost holidays in a cottage in Wales on LETS.

     How to swap husbands on LETS!? When Chris's wife Sue wanted him to do some decorating at home, he couldn't bring himself to do at home what he did at work every day. So Sue asked Bill, Chris's painting and decorating partner, to come in and do the job for her on LETS. And in return, Chris did the decorating for Bill's wife Celia!

     Daniel Johnson of West Wilts LETS is both brawn and brain at The Orchard School, Bradford on Avon, and is a great LETS enthusiast.

     With the help of LETS he started the small independent school in 1992. It now has over 63 pupils.

     Daniel says 'LETS has been useful at every stage of getting the school together. It paid for electrical and plumbing work and is also used in part payment of the teachers' salaries.

     LETS has also made it affordable for some parents to send their children to the school, paying part of the fees in LETS. It's great!'.

     Jenny was working as a nurse but injured her back lifting patients. She had to wait for 6 months lying on her back, for treatment on the NHS, and when it came it actually made the condition worse. Then she discovered that osteopathy (for which she could not afford the cash cost for regular treatment) was available on LETS. After seeing the osteopath regularly through LETS she was able to go back to work again, and repaid her LETS account by doing babysitting and selling unwanted clothes.

     David: "I had been working abroad for several years. When I came back to England, things had changed a great deal for the worse. I knew no-one, and the place where I was staying was unfriendly and expensive. I couldn't afford a car, which meant I was stuck, and without contacts I just couldn't find a job. It was all looking very bleak. Old friends had moved on, or were too busy in their work to see me.

     Then I heard about LETS, and joined.

     Within a few weeks I had discovered a whole network of friends - like a family with 100 members! The first thing I did was have a haircut on Lets. They invited me to stay for a meal, and it turned out that the guy did painting and decorating, and needed help occasionally. I got some work through him to tide me over. The woman did sales work, and she was willing to take my cards around to various shops. I paid her commission in LETS, and the shops brought in orders for my work. Next, I bought a car for 100 LETS; the LETS mechanic has kept it on the road for the last 9 months and I've started teaching again."

     LETS enabled Barbara and her husband to feed the family. He worked all hours in the Health Service, but took home very low wages. Barbara had babysitters on LETS, allowing her to work in the evenings and build up a small sales business. Barbara earned LETS by lending out her car and giving massages.

     They bought most of their food, including regular home-made meals and goats milk (one of their children was allergic to cows milk) for LETS. "We now depend on LETS for our food. The scheme is absolutely marvellous. Without it, we literally couldn't afford to eat."

     They also had the LETS Garden Gang in to do everything their garden needed. The members of the Gang were:
     Sara, a young woman who wanted to learn all about gardening;
     Mike, an out of work builder's mate;
     David, a retired teacher living alone and suffering from depression;
     Paul, a graphic designer who was looking for healthy activity out of the office.

     They thoroughly enjoyed working together clearing the garden, and were given lunch with soup, bread and cakes supplied on LETS.

     Bob, a quantity surveyor, was unemployed and hard up. He provided home insulation, energy-saving advice and gardening. His partner Di offered home brew, Caribbean cookery, the hire of a bike with child seat and a powerful lawnmower.

     Bob said LETS was far more useful for helping him to develop his skills than any government training scheme. They spent their LETS on babysitting and holidays. LETS gave them the opportunity to get out of the house, and a break from the children - which, they say, eased a big strain on their relationship: "it's really saved our marriage".

     Bob did gardening for Doris, an OAP who became very enthusiastic about his regular visits; he provided her with company as well as additional handywork. She repaid the scheme by babysitting, cake making and pet minding. Doris, who was previously very isolated, became a grannie to the family. "Its a wonderful thing - the scheme has completely transformed my life."

     Sue gave driving lessons to Beth. Beth needed to start driving as she was able to begin a career, as LETS child minding was available to allow her to do a regular part-time job.

     Mary was making cruelty-free skincare products at home, and selling them to friends and people who came to her for reflexology on LETS. This allowed her to do market testing of her products. A year later she was running a stall most weekends at all kinds of events. Then her husband was made redundant. They went into business together, without having to take out a bank loan, and are now supplying shops throughout the county with Mary's oils, creams, shampoos and lotions.

     Clare runs a parent link support group through LETS. It enables parents to meet and support each other practically (eg sharing toys, books and child care) and with ideas on childrearing, discipline, ways of handling teenage difficulties and improving communication within families.

     Arthur, a pensioner had to go to hospital for weekly treatments, and the ambulance or volunteer hospital car service had been cut. The taxi fare was putting a severe strain on his pension. LETS enabled him to arrange regular transport with a near neighbour, who was lonely and had plenty of time to give him the lifts. In time they became firm friends, and she stopped asking for LETS credits from him. A relationship of care and trust had developed, and both their lives were enriched.

     Peter: "Perhaps I owe my life to LETS. I was unemployed and distressed after my divorce. Pills from the doctor couldn't lift my depression and I was thinking about ending it all. In desperation I rang the surgery, but no-one could see me for at least a week. I would then have to pay for a course of counselling, but I had no money whatsoever. But I had joined LETS: the acupuncturist on LETS could see me immediately - and finance was no problem. The treatment calmed me and lifted my spirits. I saw the acupuncturist over a number of weeks, and it began to change my outlook. I've now started a self-help group, supporting others going through similar crises."

     Lucy tried making papier mache pots, bowls and lampshades. She was shy about her efforts but a friend liked them and encouraged her to make some for the Lets market. She made her first sales on a LETS stall, which gave her confidence to produce more. Now she has had an exhibition, and has taken a number of commissions to produce Christmas gifts.

     Penny liked making clothes, and wanted to make each item individual. As an artistic person she did not want to go into mass production, or even be committed to running a part-time business. She was very happy to produce a small number of special clothes on LETS - and her customers were happy, as they couldn't afford the cost of tailor-made designer clothes otherwise.

Here are a few more stories from satisfied LETS members:

     Jo is a single mum. She says all her family's clothing now comes through LETS, and she also gets all the traditional "male jobs" done in the house (car maintenance, woodcutting and carpentry). She's planning to take lessons in some of these too, as tuition is available on the scheme. Their Christmas would have been very bleak without LETS, but the children were given handmade toys, and other family members pottery, jewellery and candles.

     Annie: "As an artist I'm often asked to do posters, which I don't like doing. When I was asked to do a poster for LETS, something felt different. I did a good poster and got paid for it. I felt valued and therefore I gave in a different way. LETS can be great fun and improve self esteem."

     Jilly: " I asked Leslie to help design a garden. Leslie supplied the plants using her expert knowledge for their best locations. I'm very pleased with my plants and all the help Leslie gave me".

A few more Quotes...

Geoff " You feel a lot better about yourself when your community asks for things you like to do... LETS acts as a catalyst by reconnecting individuals with their fellow community members."

     Lawrie " Just about every time I trade through LETS I get to meet someone personally. I've got to know an extra 100-150 people in this way. To me, that wealth of relationships in the community is synonymous with economic well-being."

     Joy " It really gives you a sense of community spirit - because every time you buy something, you're not only getting something you like, but you're improving someone else's situation. LETS has made my existence quite a bit easier by allowing me to fit my skills and time of working around my busy schedule."

More Quotes...

     "Everybody has currency, in that everyone has something to offer. This could be ironing, childminding, haircutting, giving lessons, or hiring out something."

     "The wonderful thing about LETS is that it gives "work" which is often undervalued in the conventional economic system, a completely new meaning. It encourages ingenuity, creativity, and self-reliance... it recognises skills which the normal market-place does not value."

     "It really stimulates the art and craft market - people can afford to commission things they would never dream of usually. The possibilities are mind-boggling!"

     "People who exchange on LETS come to have a whole new experience of work, and come to their transactions with a sense of kindness and fun. To know it you have to experience it!"

     "It fosters an active and supportive community, uses otherwise dormant skills, encourages businesses in the face of recession, and keeps money local."

     "Instead of being stymied by high levels of unemployment, people have another route to use their talents and potential for economic activity in their everyday lives."

BEST PRACTICE GUIDE

Lets is not like money

The Benefits

Personal Stories

What to offer

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Keys to success

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