Can Bristol Pound bridge the Divide?

The Divide ScreeningThe post-film discussion with (left to right): me (Ruby Szarowicz), Cleo Lake (Green Party), Kat Wall (New Economy Organisers Network), Mary Rivers (the Equality Trust) and  Chris Sunderland (Bristol Pound).

Using local currencies isn’t going to defeat neoliberal capitalism, but it is a positive change anyone can make to support a fairer, more equal society.

Over 75 people packed into the Wardrobe theatre on Thursday night to watch The Divide, a film inspired by the critically-acclaimed book The Spirit Level. The film examines global inequality, following seven individuals in the USA and UK, where the top 0.1% earn as much as the bottom 90%. The crowning message of the film tells of a failed experiment: neoliberalism.

The film paints a bleak picture of the world we have created; a wall street psychologist misses his daughter’s bedtime and struggles into work the morning after back surgery, thinking only of the big house beyond the security wall. On our side of the pond, care worker Rochelle is also missing her children’s bedtime to make up enough hours on minimum wage to pay off £4000 of catalogue debt. This economic disparity has created dangerous social division, and the consequence is that neither side of the scale can truly be happy.

A panel joined us from the Green Party (Cleo Lake), the New Economy Organisers Network (Kat Wall), the Equality Trust (Mary Rivers) and Bristol Pound (Chris Sunderland) to discuss what meaningful changes we can make in our community to tackle inequality and make Bristol a fairer city. There are key small changes we can make which can lead to a big difference.

We ask people to choose independent businesses over corporate ones because we know that big corporate businesses can be really bad for communities; we know from the Panama Papers that these companies aren’t paying taxes on their profits, sending them to offshore tax havens and not contributing back to the social infrastructure they are benefiting from. The owners of these businesses often earn four or five hundred times more than the lowest person on their staff role. The work they create is often repetitive, low-skilled and often workers’ rights are diminished with zero hours’ contracts and minimum wage. These companies exacerbate inequality whilst giving us a false sense of choice as they monopolise whole industries.

By spending Bristol Pounds, you are passing on a pledge for an independent business to source their products locally, with less carbon footprint. Circulating money in our local economy prevents it from being lost to offshore tax havens; even the council are accepting it for council tax and business rates, which means more of our taxes are being spent in Bristol. Strong local economies can protect jobs, stimulate growth and make Bristol a fairer, more equal place to live.

So if you want to do one thing to fight inequality in Bristol, use the Bristol Pound!

Ruby Szarowicz is the membership manager at the Bristol Pound CIC and chaired the discussion at the screening of ‘the Divide’ on the 18 August 2016

The August system upgrade and how to reset your online account password and PIN

Like any piece of equipment, the Bristol Pound’s online system occasionally needs a bit of essential maintenance. The system is used by Bristol Credit Union to look after all the Bristol Pound personal and business accounts, and to manage payments.

On 9 August our technical teams upgraded the Bristol Pound system.

Following the upgrade your login password and text payment PIN number will need to be reset. This is a quick and simple process – and it’s described below.

Important changes
We’ll let you know all about the added features over the next few months – if you don’t discover them yourself first. In the meantime, we’ve updated our online guides to reflect the upgrades. Click the links to learn more:

How to log in to your account – now with automated ‘reset your password‘ link
Setting up regular payments – with brand new recurring payments function
Paying your council tax – you can now set up variable instalments to allow for that pesky higher payment in April!
Paying your business rates – now with much higher maximum payment

The Bristol Pound App
Sadly, there has been a slight (and temporary) casualty of the changeover: the Bristol Pound app has lost a bit of its functionality. You can no longer log in to the app, which means you can’t check your balance or make online payments. However, you can still use the app to:

  • locate businesses and cash points
  • find information on businesses
  • see special offers
  • make text payments

Withdrawing paper Bristol Pounds direct from your online account
When withdrawing paper notes from cash points you must now use the text command ‘exc’. So, assuming you want £B50, your PIN is 1234 and you’re at the Tobacco Factory you would write:

exc 1234 access6tobfac 50

Resetting your password

Go to www.bristolpound.org/login Click on the ‘Click here to reset your login password’ link in the bottom right hand corner Bristol Pound login page Enter your login name or the email address you used to sign up for the account.
resetscreen
You’ll receive an email with a link to reset your password. Make sure to check you junk or spam folders. Click on the link, which takes you to the reset password screen. Set your new password. Make it memorable and secure. Bristol Pound password reset Success! Now login using your new password and your username (if you’ve forgotten it, it’s in the email you just received). Next you need to reset your 4 digit security PIN.

Reset your PIN number

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be prompted to reset your PIN. Click on the ‘Click here to proceed’ button. Bristol Pound password reset Click on ‘Create’ next to PIN. Bristol Pound PIN reset Set your new four digit PIN. Bristol Pound PIN resetThat’s it – your new password and PIN have been set. Now you can explore the new online account system. Bristol Pound PIN reset This upgrade means we’re offering the most up to date and secure technology available. It will also bring some new features to make using the Bristol Pound even easier. If you’re having any trouble, call the Bristol Pound team on 0117 929 8642 or email the Bristol Credit Union team on bristolpound@bristolcreditunion.org.uk

Inequality: the nexus of wealth and debt by Frances Coppola

Debt

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/austerity-media/frances-coppola/inequality-nexus-of-wealth-and-debt

Frances Coppola hits the nail on the head in focusing on the impact of debt on our lives and how unnecessary it should be. He describes many ways to avoid the debt structured economy we have, which ends up dictating and impoverishing so many people. The solutions are out there for national governments through taxation and governments investing in its citizens’ education and general well-being, but in truth the evidence is that most governments in rich countries actively encourage the build up of personal debt.

David Graeber’s video on the relationship between government debt and private debt is a must see on this issue too. Debt, for millions of ordinary people, forces people in to work which they may not have chosen to otherwise do, and for much of their lives . When debt with interest is not a choice for most people who need a home and to get an education, I think it is immoral and probably makes for poor productivity too.

This piece is highly recommended reading, with one caveat – I think he misses the issue of interest on debt almost completely. The matter of interest changes fundamentally the nature of debt and is something that at Bristol Pound we hope to take head on in the near future through giving zero interest credit or loans to businesses that join our scheme.

Ciaran Mundy  – CEO Bristol Pound CIC

New for avid Bristol Pound users – the Bristol Pound User Group

User Group

Where: The Hub room, Roll for the Soul, Bristol, BS1 2JL
When: Wednesday 10 August 2016
Time: 19:30 – 20:30

The Bristol Pound is run by the people of Bristol, for the people of Bristol. Having our own currency offers us all the unique opportunity to take control of our money for the benefit of our city. In June, Bristol Pound users came together for the first Bristol Pound User Group: members attended a round table discussion about the successes and the challenges of using the local currency.

The group will now meet every two months, with members of the Bristol Pound team, to feed back on on-the-ground use of the currency, and offer ideas and support, giving the people of Bristol a firm grip on how our money works.

We would like to invite you to the second meeting of the Bristol Pound User Group.

Our User Group is open to everyone and is a way for us to gain better influence from our members. Join us on 10 August from 7:30 – 8:30 to discuss exciting service and software updates and talk about how we can subscribe more of our favourite independent businesses to the scheme.

The Users Group will be a space for collective leverage over our local currency, making the Bristol Pound more responsive to our users. It will also be a great place to network and meet other Bristol Pound users who share an interest in improving our local economy.
Light refreshments will be available and space is limited to 15 attendees. Priority will be given to group members who are already registered but newcomers are encouraged and welcomed.

If you’re an active Bristol Pound user and want to get more involved in the running of our money, please RSVP by email to Ruby at ruby@bristolpound.org. You could also send us agenda suggestions for the group to discuss!

Varii Promotions is latest business accepting the Bristol Pound

Varii Picture

Thriving Bristol based promotional staffing agency is the latest business to accept the Bristol pound. The Keynsham based agency registered with the Bristol pound at the beginning of this month as part of a focus to give back to the Bristol community.

Varii is a young business which started in 2014 through the support of Prince’s Trust Bristol. Since launching, the agency has provided promotion and event staff to a number of well-known brands within Bristol and the surrounding areas, including Bristol Credit Union, which provides fairer banking for local people, and Bristol Leaflet Delivery.

Simon Porter, Managing Director at Varii says, “the Bristol Pound is a great way to support our exciting business sector. Bristol is really unique; it’s vibrant, creative and has a strong sense of community, which is sometimes lost in large cities. We’ve got our roots here, and it’s important that we take steps to help support independent businesses and the local communities they serve.”

To celebrate Varii’s commitment to the Bristol Pound, they have agreed to provide a 10% discount on all bookings paid using Bristol Pounds.

Additionally, if you’re based in Bristol and you would like to become part of their promotions and events team then you can register with them directly through their website.

Find Varii on our directory here

Bristolians are taking control of their future following the EU referendum

“The morning after the Brexit vote, I was sitting in Small Street Espresso feeling pretty bewildered. As I paid for my coffee with text to pay, it occurred to me (and gave me some comfort) that by using the Bristol Pound it was a way of bypassing national political craziness and keeping things small and local. Our currency makes both a local and collective statement. It made the day a little brighter (and still does each time I use the currency).” Nick Hand, Director of the Letterpress Collective CIC

Continue reading

Two New Roles at Bristol Pound – with Business and Community in mind

Hiring

Behind the big blue Bristol Pound sign, there’s a highly motivated, forward-thinking team, busying away with running campaigns, strengthening relationships and generally administering the daily running of the currency.

The team is evolving and we are currently seeking passionate and innovative folk to join us. We’re after a Business Relationship Manager and a Community Liaison Manager. These are key roles for the organisation and will both focus on their specialism while also working with the rest of the team to coordinate Bristol’s exciting local currency.

Intrigued? Pop over to the jobs page and have a look at the full descriptions. The application window for both roles is open up to the 5th of August with interviews being held in the week beginning 15th August.

Bristol Pound jobs page

Bristol Pound are hiring – Can you lead a growing team delivering a ground breaking project?

IMAG0598

Bristol Pound CIC operates a high profile local currency in Bristol and collaborates with a range of partners in the UK and overseas to develop and deliver other local currencies and related economic interventions.

We’re looking for more paid staff to join us. All the roles will be posted at bristolpound.org/jobs and below is the latest.

Programme Manager

We have a highly motivated staff team running the Bristol Pound supported by a Board of both paid executive and voluntary directors. We are undertaking pioneering work and going through rapid change and this requires adaptive and agile thinking and management.

The organisation emerged out of a mainly voluntary team in 2012 and now has 6+ FTE staff. We are set to expand further up to 15 FTE staff in order to launch and operate a new business credit service in Bristol, delivered along with the existing Bristol Pound local currency.

The Programme Manager will project manage the delivery of the Bristol Pound currency and our new business credit service, and line-manage the staff team tasked with the delivery of these innovative projects.

About you

You will be experienced and comfortable working with, and communicating with, a diverse range of people, with a demonstrable track record of leading a team. You will understand why the Bristol Pound exists and want to be an integral part of building the local currency and other local economic alternatives to help create a fairer and greener economy.

Here are the details

Salary: Circa £35,000
Reports to: Nominated Director/Exec Team
Direct reports: Delivery team of 5+ FTE staff: back office, sales and communications staff
Days: 5 days a week – 40 hours
Location: Bristol Pound office, Corn Exchange, Bristol City Centre

More information and application process

Head to our jobs page and download the job description/role profile.

To apply for the post please send a CV and covering letter by email to info@bristolpound.org. Please put the text “Application for Programme Manager Post” in the subject of the email. Applications for this post must be submitted by email no later than 3rd July 2016.

If you are shortlisted for interview, we will contact you by email to let you know the date and times of interview. We expect interviews to be held in the week commencing 11th July 2016 and will last up to 1 hour.

A nifty way to get local food in your area of Bristol

Getting your hands on tasty, locally-produced food can be tough when you’re surrounded by high streets strewn with supermarkets.

But now there is a way to get great quality, fairly priced food in your local area. It’s all delivered for free and you become part of a community too.

That’s the idea behind Real Economy – a project originally set up by the Bristol Pound but now ploughing it’s own furrow across the city. Let this intro video do the talking:

Steph, the coordinator of Real Economy, explains:

“Real Economy is an exciting way to buy food and drink, and a great way to spend Bristol Pounds. Our online platform lets you buy food directly from local producers, helping to support local farmers, and since our producers are paid in Bristol Pounds, your money continues to circulate in the local economy.”

“We have food clubs all across the city. You simply register with your local group, place your online order and we deliver to your local collection point. Our food clubs are also a great way to meet new people and build community around food.”

Find out more about Real Economy and place your first order:
https://www.realeconomy.co.uk/

 

9 surprising places that accept Bristol Pounds

I have lived in Bristol all my life, and when the Bristol Pound was introduced in 2012, I will admit, I did not come much into contact with it. Whilst the novelty and purpose of the Bristol Pound seemed admirable, I had no idea of the sheer number of places that actually accepted it – over 800 businesses across the city.

I’ve been browsing through the Bristol Pound directory and here are the 9 places that surprised me the most.

The Arnolfini

Image: Arnolfini / Jamie Woodley

This includes both the bookshop and the café/bar too! The number of times I’ve visited the Arnofilni, and never known it was a supporter of our currency.

Chandos Deli

This surprised me because, not only is there a Chandos Deli round the corner from my own home, but also because I had always assumed it was part of a chain. This highlights one of the great uses of the Bristol Pound – distinguishing truly local businesses from the larges chains they compete against.

Bristol Temple Meads Station

SWNS_FGW_BRISTOL_POUNDS_11

Whilst I have known for a while that First Bus accepts the Bristol Pound, I would never have made a guess at Bristol Temple Meads Station! Certainly something to keep in mind when you next buy a ticket at the station’s ticket offices.

Folk House

I have always known of the Folk house for the café and music. However, the sheer amount of events at the Folk House is staggering.

Flavalanche

Just up the road from the Folk House is Flavalanche. As a long time lover of both Frozen Yoghurt and bubble Tea, knowing this place accepts Bristol Pounds just increases my motivation to visit more often.

Bristol Ticket Shop

Bristol has a pretty solid music scene. We have a great selection of venues, and thus get a huge variety of bands. All of the tickets are to be found in the Ticket Shop, and great to know that they can now be bought with Bristol Pound!

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

I feel like this should have been obvious, but as entry to the museum is free, it did not occur to my mind, despite having spent a large bulk of my childhood here doing the trails.

At-Bristol

This science museum was a staple of my childhood, I even went as far as to have multiple birthday parties here!

Watershed

Last, but certainly not least, the Watershed. I’ve been here many times over the years, both to the café, and cinema. It has always felt like such a staple that it’s impossible not to imagine that every city has a Watershed, but it’s acceptance of the Bristol Pound proves it is truly a Bristol-only thing.

So here are ten of the places I truly did not realise accepted the Bristol Pound, but in all honesty, I could have listed a few hundred other places. The Bristol Pound is more widespread than I had ever previously believed, and I’m certain that there are places you won’t have considered.

They’re all listed in the Bristol Pound directory, so this is the best place to start.

Caroline Jeston is a born and bred Bristolian and freelance blogger. You can check out her more geeky writings here or her personal blog here