The Lewes Pound is more than just money. The artwork on the notes is specifically designed to celebrate and support Lewes encouraging visitors and us all to shop locally and to strengthen pride in our community. The fronts of all our notes feature that great man Thomas Paine, who lived in Lewes for 7 years, and his quote – “We have it in our power to build the world anew”. In these times of extinction rebellion and climate emergency this thought was never more needed and the Lewes Pound aims to be part of the coalition to build a better world for us and our descendants. The Lewes Pound is essentially a voucher or token that can be spent locally as a complementary currency and used alongside Pounds Sterling. It is a creative yet practical to make money work for Lewes.
According to the New Economics Foundation, money spent locally stays within the community and is re-used many times, multiplying wealth and building resilience in the local economy. Money spent in national chains doesn’t because it is mostly drained away to national and international corporations and their shareholders – the ‘leaky bucket’ syndrome. The Lewes Pound encourages demand for local goods and services. In turn this builds resilience to the rising costs of energy, transport and food.
By supporting local businesses and goods and encouraging us to buy seasonal produce the Lewes Pound reduces the need for transport and minimises our carbon footprint. This is just one of the many contributions Lewes can make to tackle the growing climate emergency.
By spending money in local outlets we can strengthen the relationships between local shopkeepers and the community. It also supports people finding new ways to make a living. The Lewes Pound seeks to find ways to engage with those who are socially and economically excluded. The Donate-a-Drink scheme at the Depot, where for the price of a drink you can donate Lewes Pounds to the Lewes food banks, highlights the necessity for food banks and is one way we can support those who need to use them.
And the Lewes Pound celebrates the inclusiveness of Lewes from Patina, Lewes’s artistic Moving On Parade, to the Rooks, Equality FC of the men’s and women’s teams.
There is nothing new about the Lewes Pound. In fact, Lewes had its own currency between 1789 and 1895. Complementary currencies have existed since the beginning of civilisation, from the bead money of Papua New Guinea, which still exists, to the WIR, established between the World Wars and now used by 16% of Swiss businesses. Such currencies are often created by local merchants, governments and citizens during times of great economic change, inflation or unemployment; recent examples exist in Argentina and Japan. The town of Berkshire, Massachusetts, has issued over $1.5 million Berkshares into circulation since it started a couple of years ago and is accepted by 300 shops and being adopted by nearby towns.
Closer to home, a number of communities around the UK, including, Bristol and Brixton, have also developed their own local currencies. They are all unique, but they all have similar aims to those of the Lewes Pound.