Brixton Bonus: Meet the Winner – Max

You may recognise Max’s face from lots of the pictures featuring previous Bonus winners… as the one who was handing them their cheques for B£1,000! That’s right, Max used to work at B£ and he was the one who set up the Brixton Bonus and Fund. As an employee and the one responsible for Bonus he naturally wasn’t allowed to play – but when he left, first thing he did was setting up a recurring entry for 10 tickets a month. And boom – he won the Brixton Grand! The generous person he is, he donated more than half his prize to the Brixton Fund straight away. Our apprentice Dominic caught up with Max to ask him what his designs for the rest of his prize money were, and what it felt like to be on the other side of Bonus.

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Having set up the Bonus as an employee of the Brixton Pound, how does it feel to be on the other side and playing it yourself?

Pretty jammy! I set up my entry as a way of continuing to support the B£ and the Fund, that was my primary motivation and luckily it paid me back – but I don’t think I’m allowed to win again! 

What are you going to do with your winnings?

I took my girlfriend out for dinner, we went to Salon. It was delicious. I’ve basically just taken everyone out for food, that’s the only thing I’ve done. I have a friend coming down from Bristol who’s going travelling for a few months so I thought I’d take him out for dinner as well. I have enough physical things so I’m just eating my way through the money.

What is your favourite place in Brixton?

It’s hard to say – I had some favourite places but some of them are gone now: Kaff was a great place, also the Phoenix Cafe. I’ve got a lot of love for Healthy Eaters restaurant, Brockwell Park. Obviously the Brixton Pound Cafe is a hotspot. Brixton is great fun, one of the more lively bits of South London.

What was your main motivation behind setting up the Bonus and the Fund?

I was recruited specifically to set up the Bonus and the Fund, but they weren’t fully formed ideas. I’d say with Bonus, we knew roughly what we wanted it to be – a local prize draw, so I went ahead and set it up in that mould. With the Fund there was a lot less of a plan, so I had a lot more input into what that ended up looking like – that was the bit for me that was really interesting. Bonus is a bit of fun, but the Fund actually has the potential to do some really good stuff. I borrowed a lot from something called the Edge Fund which I’m a member of: it’s a more democratic funding model. And particularly because the Brixton Pound is place-specific to Brixton, while a lot of traditional funding is much more top-down, it seemed like a good opportunity to work up a new model where there was a lot more input from local people to how money was being spent, and also build links and networks in a place like Brixton.

Over a year or so we tried to develop it from being at first quite a standard model of “write your application, a panel will look over it, then make a decision whether you get money or not” into one where it’s not just the money, it’s the contacts you’re making and the networks you’re building. In terms of how the money is distributed there’s a lot more creative ways where input is fed from the public. I was very pleased with the big event we had in June at Brixton East: it was a really positive evening, lots of people came along, and it felt like a success in terms of creating a space where people were having the right kind of conversations, and at the same time we were collectively deciding how to fund some great projects.

So what’s life been like for you after Brixton Pound?

There’s been a B£-shaped hole in my life, I had a lot of fun when I was working there. But I still keep up with the people I used to work with so that’s nice! I come down to Brixton from time to time to hang out in the new B£ Cafe. I’m just as busy as I was, but I’m working on different stuff with new people, doing new projects which is exciting. (Follow Max’s work at climate change charity 10:10 and his own project Demand Energy Equality, it’s great stuff!)

Finally, what would you say is the best reason for playing the Bonus for a newcomer – why should they play it?

There are so many good reasons! One is that you can win some money, but that’s the simplest reason. Two, is that it’s a really easy way to be involved in the Brixton Pound. It used to be all about the currency – and a lot of people still use it to buy their groceries or gifts or what have you, but it’s also a lot bigger these days and the Bonus is a way to be part of it. Thirdly, by playing you are supporting great local projects through the Fund – it’s a way of finding out about these projects which may just be on your doorstep but you’ve got no idea, and then once you’re part of the Bonus family you’ll get updates on funded projects as well as other worthy initiatives and social projects people are setting up in the area. What more could you want? 🙂

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So, how can I be a winner?

Ticket sales for the next Bonus round will open on Monday 31st October, and the big winner will be announced shortly after 5pm on 16th December. This is slightly different from the monthly format we’ve used so far. The reason we have decided to run Bonus less frequently was to make it more of a special event –  so in this Christmas draw, apart from the main prize of B£1,000, there will be lots of runner-up prizes donated by Brixton’s independent businesses. We are keeping those a surprise for now, so keep an eye out for announcements – but they are guaranteed to be amazing!

Once the draw opens on Monday 31st October, you can buy tickets through your Brixton Pound online account, via an online form (which will automatically create a B£ account for you by the way!), or at the B£ Cafe at 77 Atlantic Road.

In 2017, we will continue to run special Bonus draws seasonally. Making Bonus seasonal will also help us make sure that the Brixton Fund continues providing small grants for the local community – we were blown away by the amount of interest in the past year, and want to make sure the next funding round in spring 2017 is bigger and better than ever.

In the meantime, we would massively appreciate it if you continued to support us through playing the Bonus, using B£s, or visiting our pay-what-you-feel cafe at 77 Atlantic Road, where we’re serving drinks, cakes, and delicious food sourced from local surplus as well as providing the space for bookings ranging from art exhibitions to activist meetings. Your support means a lot to us – hope to see you soon!