As Bristol Pound celebrates its birthday today, we’re excited to be moving forward into our seventh year under the stewardship of new Managing Director Diana Finch.
After working in financial management, Diana has focused her career on leadership roles in the voluntary sector for the last 13 years.
Why have a Bristol Pound?
In the aftermath of the financial crash of 2008, a forward-thinking group of Bristolians were considering how they could tackle many of the problems Bristol was facing. How could they improve the local economy and make it more resilient? How could they ensure the money spent in Bristol benefited local people, rather than leaking out to distant head offices, supply chains and shareholders? How could they help to reduce transport congestion and emissions by supporting the development of more local supply chains and jobs?
They came up with the idea of a local currency, which could only be spent with local businesses. Within months they had set up a company, and in September 2012, the Bristol Pound was born.
Since then, the Bristol Pound has grown to be the largest local currency in the UK, with some 1,500 consumer members and over 650 full business members across the city. It has developed innovative ways to pay electronically alongside the paper currency including, most recently, the smartphone app. Importantly, strong support from Bristol City Council has meant that council tax and business rates can be paid in Bristol Pounds.
As we head into our seventh year we are working on several exciting projects to extend our range of services and create more opportunities for people to get involved.
In the autumn we will be focusing on our independent business members, piloting our innovative interest-free Bristol Pound loans and hosting regular business breakfasts to create a trusted business referral network.
Later in the year, we will be rolling out improvements to our payment app and membership sign-up processes, making it easier for people to start making the choice to support local businesses when they spend their money.
We will also be launching our Champions scheme in October. We’ll be recruiting Community Champions to be ambassadors for the Bristol Pound in their local area, Business Champions to be trailblazers in developing ways of using and promoting the currency, and Funding Champions who can help us invest in the future development of the Bristol Pound.
Diana says, “With the prospect of Brexit and the continuing after-effects of the economic crash, the case for having a local currency has never been stronger. There is much work to be done on strengthening Bristol’s independent business sector, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
A massive thank you to everyone who has worked over the past six years to make the scheme what it is today: the founders, staff and Board members past and present, the Bristol Credit Union, individual and business members, Bristol Council, business supporters, funders and friends of Bristol Pound.
If you have any questions, or would like to get involved in any way please email us!
Diana was also featured on BBC Radio Bristol – please listen to the interview here