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Welcome to ABC LETS

The ABC LETS (Attenborough, Beeston and Chilwell Local Exchange Scheme) was set up in 2001. The idea was that we wanted a way of renewing the kind of neighbourly exchange that used to take place before our lives became too busy and complicated. If I had a piece of equipment in my garage that I used once a year, like a long handled pole for pruning trees, why shouldn't my neighbour borrow it the other days. That makes so much more sense from an environmental point of view, and these days we all need to be concerned about climate change.

Or, why if I had a skill such as sorting out a computer, or making up flat-pack furniture, whilst someone else had the time to look after my cat when I am on holiday, or could help me mend my bicycle, or give me a lift somewhere, wasn't there some way we could all help each other without having to pay £10, or £20 an-hour. The important thing is that everyone realises that they have something to offer, even if they don't think so at first.

The result was the LETS scheme. We have over 60 members living locally, and the local bit is important, as you are more likely to trust someone living locally as well as it being better for the environment. We have a directory that lists the skills that members are offering, or items they are willing to lend. When you need help, you ring them up, agree a price and off you go. We don't deal in ‘real' money, but in our own currency of ‘Bees'. Everyone has a cheque book to pay for services, and everyone periodically gets a balance statement about what they have earned and spent. Just like a 'real' bank really. Basically one Bee equals one pound.

When we first set up ABC LETS we mailed out a paper newsletter, then when most members began using email, we began to use a mailing list, and in 2010 we moved to an online system, which enables members to manage their own profile which includes their own listings of Offers and Wants - and these also appear in the Directory, which can be printed off from the website. Members can also message each other, and do their own online transactions, instead of sending cheques into the LETS accountant, but help is always available if needed.

We also hold regular socials where members can bring items to trade, and get to know each other, which is important as you are more likely to ask someone for something if you can put a face to their name. This social networking is an important part of a LETS, as it builds up the community.

Do come and join us - Richard Eddleston