UK Local Exchange Trading and Complementary Currencies
Development Agency

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About LETSLINK UK

Pioneering Complementary Currencies

LETSlink UK is the lead body supporting Local Exchange Trading Systems nationally. We represent LETS in the media, to the government and national organisations. We organise UK conferences, training and seminars, advice, networking, and the development of new forms of LETS for health services, food producers, local authorities and 'third' sector' community economic initiatives. Based on co-operative principles the UK's LETS schemes have revitalised communities, dissolving barriers of social and financial exclusion, offering new opportunity for all, enhancing people's skills, supporting local economies and benefiting the environment.

We are a non-profit voluntary agency with charitable objectives, dedicated to testing, researching and developing sustainable models for local and community-based LETS and complementary currencies. We encourage organisers of LETS schemes to network with each other locally, and we are developing a range of practical administrative services and training opportunities for LETS organisers. Our aim is to empower and inform people and organisations through the provision of appropriate, practical, and ethical guidelines on how to organise and develop their own local exchange systems.

We have run conferences throughout the UK where LETS organisers come together to share knowledge and methodologies. We are also working with academics interested in the problems of mainstream financial systems, to acknowledge the role of LETS as a practical example of community currency. Nowadays, like many organisations we are hosting webinars to support local groups.

LETSlink UK was founded in 1991 by Liz Shephard as the world's first national LETS development agency and network. In its early years, Liz and her partner Harry developed a national advice line, servicing over 50,000 enquiries and developed the model rules, materials, back up and 'best practice' guidelines used by UK LETS schemes and subscribers. In 1994 Liz Shephard received the first Schumacher Award for 'a triumph of voluntary effort' in the development of LETS throughout Britain. LETSlink UK inspired exchange networks in over 1,000 localities from Iceland to Albania. We also advised NGOs and community groups in Eastern Europe, Africa, India, Japan and elsewhere on developing their own appropriate forms of local exchange.

Here in the UK, the Prime Minister's flagship Social Exclusion Unit put LETS at the top of their agenda for neighbourhood and community economic renewal under the banner 'Bringing Britain Together'. Tony Blair also endorsed LETS as "showing the way" in his speech to the NCVO, for rebuilding human and social capital and "making the links between rebuilding communities and rebuilding economic opportunity." Supported by MP Linda Gilroy and the Parliamentary Group for LETS, LETSlink ran a national campaign to amend social security regulations for LETS with the Ministers for Employment and Social Security. Although the matter was not resolved entirely, in practice there have been very few difficulties posed by DHSS offices for individual LETS members. Where difficulties have occurred they have been successfully challenged.

In the late nineties changing personal circumstances led to LETSlink to becaming a liimited company with charitable aims with trustees being appointed in order to receive funding, which the organisation achieved for a two-year period between 1998 to 2000, but it became apparent that those in post were limiting the role of the Executive Officer, and a period of difficulty ensued, which was resolved by the resignation of most of the trustees and the retirement of the founder. Management of the organisation was taken over by the Trustee representing the London region, and after a period of uncertainty, it reverted to being a voluntary agency with charitable objectives, focusing on supporting local groups with training and hosting of online systems.


To join a local group, follow the links from our UK Map enter your details into the joining form of your local group, failing which the county enquiry form which is forwarded to representatives of all local groups in in that county. Individuals and organisation may also join the LETSlink UK Network.

 

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