Stories from LETS Members...
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.
was selling his house, and had all the plumbing, electrical rewiring,
central heating and carpentry done on 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.
also had low-cost holidays in a cottage in Wales on LETS.
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!
Johnson of West Wilts LETS is both brawn and brain at The Orchard
School, Bradford on Avon, and is a great LETS enthusiast.
the help of LETS he started the small independent school in 1992.
It now has over 63 pupils.
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.
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!'.
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.
"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.
I heard about LETS, and joined.
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
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.
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."
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
David, a retired teacher living
alone and suffering from depression;
Paul, a graphic designer who
was looking for healthy activity out of the office.
thoroughly enjoyed working together clearing the garden, and were
given lunch with soup, bread and cakes supplied on LETS.
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.
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".
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."
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.
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.
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
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
"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."
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
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.
are a few more stories from satisfied LETS members:
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.
"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."
" 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...
" 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."
" 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."
" 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."
has currency, in that everyone has something to offer. This could
be ironing, childminding, haircutting, giving lessons, or hiring
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."
really stimulates the art and craft market - people can afford to
commission things they would never dream of usually. The possibilities
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!"
fosters an active and supportive community, uses otherwise dormant
skills, encourages businesses in the face of recession, and keeps
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."