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Getting to Know the Bristol Pound

365-logoOriginally listed on 365 Bristol

The Bristol Pound is revolutionary in that it is the UK’s first city-wide local currency, the first to have electronic accounts managed by a regulated financial institution, and the first that can be used to pay some local taxes.

Of course, Bristol Pounds stay in Bristol, with a strong emphasis on creating and building community connections and work for people, not banks, to create a fairer local economy.

We caught up with Bristol Pound Communications Manager, Katie Finnegan-Clarke, about the local currency, its future, and how you can get involved.

When did you set up The Bristol Pound and what are the key goals of a local currency?

Bristol’s local currency launched on 19th September 2012. Because Bristol Pounds stick to Bristol they make our city wealthier. This is particularly important for the city’s independent businesses. Our immediate aim is to support small independent businesses. In the longer term, the Bristol Pound can play a big part in making Bristol a vibrant and resilient local economy.

Are the team from Bristol?

Some of us are proper Bristolians (like me!); the rest of us have been living here for a number of years. We’re all a bit in love with Bristol.

How’s business?

The number of account holders is still on the rise, and we are continually breaking our records for most Bristol Pound text payments last week. More than 750 local businesses accept the currency and you can pay for First buses with paper Bristol Pounds. We’re looking to massively scale up for Bristol’s Green Capital year so watch this space! But it’s important to remind people we are a non-for-profit community interest company; any profit is reinvested in the scheme.

How can businesses and our readers get involved to support Bristol Pound?

The more people and businesses that use £B, the better it is for Bristol! By spending £B you’re making an active pledge to the local economy; you’re also encouraging local businesses to spend £Bs with their suppliers, passing on the pledge to spend locally.

Join today online at www.bristolpound.org/signup or we can sign you up in person at Bristol Credit Union on Stokes Croft or Bristol Pound offices above St Nicholas’ Market on Corn Street.

There’s a new design going on the currency next year. Why the re-design and how can aspiring artists submit their work for consideration? We’d of course be more than happy to have the 365Bristol logo on there!

To protect against fraud there is an expiry date on the notes so they become invalid from 30th September 2015. The new notes will be introduced from 30th June 2015.

We’re running another citywide design competition, which will open on 16th February and close at 5.30pm on 16th March. All the information you’ll need to enter can be found on http://bristolpound.org/competition.
You’re welcome to submit an entry!
What’s your favourite things to do in Bristol and any restaurants you and the team recommend?

We had our team Christmas meal at Souk Kitchen in Southville, which was a flavoursome delight. If you like a good coffee, which I really do, I’d highly recommend Small Street Espresso and Full Court Press in The Old City! They keep me going…
Where do you see Bristol Pound in 5 years time?

Still working hard for Bristol’s local independent traders and helping to build an economic system which works for everyone, not just the elite. I’m sure you’ll agree, a local finance system run by the people, for the people is so much better than one run by the banks, for the banks! That’s what we are creating!

Bristol Pound has been set up as a non-profit Community Interest Company and presumably have used a lot of blood, sweat and tears initially to get the organisation up and running. In light of budgetary constraints on charities, arts funded enterprises and other non-profits what advice can you give to organisations in need of additional funding and support?

Don’t give up!  You won’t get all the funding you apply for; but that doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t worthwhile. We’re lucky enough to live somewhere where there are a lot of great projects going on, so getting funding is really competitive.

If you were Mayor of Bristol for a day which one thing would you change?

I’d probably accidentally cause irreversible damage in that situation but for what it’d be worth I’d:
Put pressure on big businesses to pay their taxes in full and support the communities that they are profiting from, encourage a fair living wage and support people with finding sustainable housing. All in a days work!

 

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