The Norwood and Brixton Foodbank is one of the largest in London. Between the two centres, they feed 200 people per week. They are meeting a demand which may only continue to rise given their estimate that almost 60,000 people in Lambeth are living on the edge of poverty.
Through partnerships with local supermarkets and food outlets, they receive items which are then made up into packages that can last recipients up to three days. That such a situation exists on this scale while other parts of Brixton thrive suggests a flaw in the current economic model.
One feature of a local currency is that it can seek to address these economic flaws, by working in ways that sterling cannot. That’s why last year we teamed up with Nesta to see how we could use the B£ and pay-by-text as a platform for giving. To test this, we piloted ‘Payroll Local’ with Lambeth Council whereby staff could opt in to have their salary part-paid in B£, a proportion of which could then be sent directly to local charities.
Last month we saw the fruit of this scheme start to appear, when the Brixton branch of the Foodbank used the B£ balance it had accumulated to purchase essential items from Faiz grocery store in Brixton Village. Jon Taylor from the Foodbank told us:
“Our B£ order from Faiz allowed us to address an immediate shortfall in tinned tomatoes, tinned meats, fruit juice, vegetables and pulses. This went directly into packages that were made up in the following days. We were very grateful to negotiate a bulk deal with Faiz. It’s not straightforward for us to accept normal cash donations so the B£ makes an ideal giving platform”.
Would you like to donate B£ to the Brixton Foodbank? You can do so directly using your pay-by-text account and the username ‘foodbank’. If you’re not using pay-by-text already then you can sign up for free here.
Are you a Lambeth Council employee and would like to sign up for Payroll Local? You can do so here.
If you are a local charity and would like to set up a B£ account, just drop a quick line to [email protected] and we can take it from there.