You’ve heard about it, you’ve read about it, and now you have the chance to join the Wiltshire Exchange Scheme. This works by mutual credit, in which friendship networks create value by exchanging goods and services.
LETS – Local Exchange Trading Systems or Schemes – are local community-based mutual aid networks in which people exchange all kinds of goods and services with one another, without the need for money.
LETS are revitalising communities throughout Britain. As grassroots initiatives they are open to everyone – people of all ages, skills and abilities; local clubs and associations; voluntary groups, charities, community initiatives; housing co-operatives, small businesses and local services – helping everyone to give and take, connect to new resources, and find a genuine community identity.
LETS offer equal opportunities to all – whether employed or unemployed, financially secure or on low income, black or white, able or disabled. LETS use a system of community credits, so that direct exchanges do not have to be made. People earn LETS credits by providing a service, and can then spend the credits on whatever is offered by others on the scheme: for example childcare, transport, food, home repairs or the hire of tools and equipment.
Research in the mid-nineties indicated that at least 40,000 people were involved in some 450 LETS schemes, most of them established according to the democratic and co-operative LETS model developed in Britain by LETSLINK UK, which began work in 1991. Our current contact list of over 300 indicates that their has been some shrinkage – if we say that membership averages 100 per scheme, this means about 30,000 or fewer members in the UK.
However, this has been accompanied by an increase in related initiatives, such as Timebanks, Freecycle, Commercial Barter, Fairtrade Campaigns, and Community Networks of all kinds, which attest to the continuing interest of people in making things happen in their community.
Our ongoing research project, launched in September 2003, has the aim of establishing the current state of LETS in the UK, and the needs of LETS organisers. We are now seeking major funding to reinvigorate and support our organisation so that we can provide better resources to our members, and will report progress on this page – watch this space.
You can use the facilities on the Wiltshire Exchange Scheme website to
– find out about events,
– create a personal profile,
– record your offers,
– state your needs,
– peruse the listings,
– contact other members,
– send invoices,
– make payments,
– tap into funds,
– provide feedback,
– join in group activities,
– build your own mini-network.
WES is connecting up with many local community groups – see our links page – and welcome enquiries from individuals and organisations all over Wiltshire who would like to join with us in developing this innovative scheme.
If you sometimes need a helping hand, and enjoy organising, sharing your skills, learning something new, or just meeting people – do join us – to find out more access the joining form, go to
Learn More link to http://www.wiltshire.exchangescheme.org/index.htm