Colin Tingle as a director of the Lewes Pound was a huge enthusiast for local currencies, how they support local businesses and everyone in local communities, and their connection with the local environment. His passionate drive and belief in positive change was integral to the LP and continues to inspire us. When he died last May he left a legacy of Lewes Pounds to be used for the benefit of the community.
With the agreement of his loved ones we proposed that some of these Lewes Pounds should be given to users of the food banks to enable them to make choices to buy fresh local produce or shop in local independent businesses to get items they couldn’t normally afford and that the food bank doesn’t supply. In early December envelopes of LP25 were distributed to people using the Landport food bank along with an explanatory letter and a copy of our information leaflet. After Christmas they were asked how they had used the Lewes Pounds and what difference it had made to them.
The replies were surprising and, to be honest, not exactly what we had been expecting.. It would be fair to say that most of the replies indicated that people had spent their LPs on treats. We heard from someone who had been able to go to a film at the Depot with her partner and from someone else who was planning to go. Another had taken her family for pizza at The Bus Club (formerly the Hearth). Another had been able to pay to have a bracelet repaired at Jonathan Swan. Someone had bought a lovely box of chocolates for his mum at Poppy’s in the Riverside. Yet another had given them as Christmas present to her daughter who had bought a craft set from Wickle and was saving the rest for another treat later on. Someone else went out to buy Christmas presents for her grandchildren and for the first time ever went into Bags of Books. These are things that many of us take for granted, but they truly were rare treats for the beneficiaries of Colin’s bequest.
We were so touched and delighted by these stories of people getting some agency over their lives and being able to look a bit beyond the day to day struggle for survival that we obtained a grant from Lewes Town Council and were able to give out Lewes Pounds to two food banks before Easter. Again lots of heartwarming stories have come back, including one report of a woman bursting into tears upon receiving her envelope and saying she couldn’t remember when someone had last been so nice to her. This time it was striking how many people had gone to our independent butchers to buy good quality meat for their families hat would otherwise have been unaffordable. We will now be seeking further funding.
However this isn’t just about people who go to food banks. It also underlines the wide variety of businesses in Lewes that accept LPs and shows that more of us could use LPs to express our support for the local independent businesses that help make Lewes such a unique community. One that the Lewes Pound is proud to celebrate.