So what is LETS?
EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING TO OFFER AND NEEDS HELP AT SOME TIME
LETS stands for Local Exchange Trading System. LETS was pioneered in Canada but now operates successfully worldwide; there are several LETS groups operating in Britain alone. Bracknell LETS has been running for more than 25 years. It's one of many that started in the early 90's, possibly as a result of home computers becoming common at that time making LETS so much easier to run than the previous paper systems.
TIMEBANK - COMMUNITY INITIATIVE
LETS is a non-money trading system; it's actually more like a timebank. It's a system that enables people to exchange services and goods with minimal use of money - for example money for ingredients for baking or fuel for lifts, but everything else is in LETS points. It's a self-help community initiative that encourages the sharing of skills and resources. LETS groups trade in fictitious currencies. Bracknell LETS trades in Bricks - historically bricks were made in the area. Exmouth LETS uses Cockles. Cambridge LETS trades in Cams; Reading LETS used to trade in Readies before it became part of Bracknell LETS. South Oxfordshire LETS trades in Castles. Similarly to Bracknell LETS it started off in Wallingford but expanded to cover a much wider area. This does seem to be a trend; originally LETS members needed to be in reach of an accounts person who entered paper cheques and trading sheets into a spreadsheet but now online trading systems make it easier to administer trading remotely.
The group sets its own rate of exchange; in Bracknell it’s 20 BRICKS an hour. Think of LETS credits more as 'favours' rather than 'money' since everyone's time is equally appreciated.
There’s a wealth of skills and expertise which is frequently untapped. LETS is a great way of helping others whilst receiving help in return when we need it. Years ago, relatives were usually close by; Gran was around the corner, Dad was in the next street, so family was always at hand to help out. In our modern world, with families very often far apart, we may not have such close support.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Members advertise their goods, skills and wants on the online Community Exchange System, and additionally on our closed Facebook group and an email group. Help is available for those without computer skills.
You give Jon a lift to the airport which takes 1 hour there and back. Jon pays you 20 Bricks for your time and a cash contribution towards the cost of your petrol. You buy an apple pie from Sophie at a cost of 15 Bricks. While he is doing her shopping, Nick shops for Sue as well. Nick claims Bricks for his time as well as money for the shopping bill.
We do charge a quarterly admin fee of 10 Bricks plus a 2.5% LEVY on both sides (payer and payee) of every transaction between Members. This covers the Bricks which Bracknell LETS 'pays' to Members who work hard every month to keep the Group going; managing membership, the website, our accounts, the hire of the hall and marketing for example.
We also have a nominal real money annual membership fee to cover the cost of postage, printing, refreshments and speakers: this fee is clearly shown at the bottom of our Terms and Conditions before you join.