Tag Archives: briXmas

Volunteers from Lambeth Council and other Brixton locals bring Christmas cheer to older people

With the help of local volunteers and donors, the Brixton Pound ran a collection and gift wrapping session at the B£ Café to give isolated older people gifts and treats to help warm their Christmas. 

A lunch was hosted at the Vida Walsh Centre in Windrush Square on Christmas day for older people who would otherwise be spending Christmas alone. When we think of Christmas we think of warmth and merriment, family and friends, but that’s not always within reach for everyone, whether because of geography, absence of family or friends, physical or mental disability, or other challenges. Older people in particular can find themselves isolated and lonely at Christmas.

Previous recipient of a Brixton Fund grant, Age UK Lambeth, asked us whether we could help them in sourcing donations of food and gifts to be distributed at the lunch, so we sent out a call to our network of Brixtonites and other loyal supporters.

The response was overwhelming. Thanks to you lovely people, and in particular thanks to staff of Lambeth Council, we received several large bags of fruit, biscuits, chocolate, and assorted gifts.

A group of cheery volunteers transported the donations, sipped teas and coffees and diligently helped to wrap presents at our café on Atlantic Road. Here’s the team:

Heartwarming stuff. Thanks guys!

As well as collecting an impressive pile of gifts for the event, with the help of the Lambeth community, Age UK Lambeth managed to raise more than £3,000, massively exceeding the target of £750. The money not spent on the Christmas lunch will be used to upgrade the services they provide for users in Lambeth.

Age UK research suggests that there are 2,550 lonely older people in Lambeth, and that 1.2 million older people in England are chronically lonely. That’s an awful lot of loneliness that can be alleviated with just small actions from the people around. If you feel you could offer an hour or so a week to befriend an older person, or make a small donation, Age UK Lambeth will match you up with someone. Apply to be a befriending volunteer and help make someone’s New Year here: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/lambeth/getinvolved/

To keep up with any Age UK Lambeth updates, events and developments, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Win B£1,000 this Christmas!

The very special Xmas Bonus is on! Buy a ticket for £1 and enter a draw to win B£1,000, or one of 22 runner up prizes – including original B£ merchandise and 12 mystery prizes donated by Brixton businesses this Christmas!

  • Raffle draw on 16th December
  • 22 runner-up prizes: new prizes donated by Brixton businesses revealed daily
  • Get up to 10 tickets to boost your chances!

Buy your tickets at the B£ Cafe or online: brixtonpound.org/bonus-play

Proceeds from the Brixton Bonus go into the Brixton Fund, our local grants scheme: so it’s a win for Brixton every time!

Turn £1 into B£1,000 and cover all your Xmas costs

With B£1,000 in your pocket, you can cover all your Christmas costs: buy gifts for family and friends, groceries, decorations, and any other festive items – all from local, independent shops. For some great ideas, check out gift guides made by B£ users in the previous years, or see what previous Bonus winners spent their prize money on

You could spend your Brixton Grand on:

And while you do your Christmas shopping, treat yourself to a lovely coffee break at Federation Coffee, or a festive cocktail at Seven or Three Eight Four bars.

For a full list of B£ businesses, visit the B£ Directory.

Buy your tickets at the B£ Cafe or online: brixtonpound.org/bonus-play

12 Days of BriXmas Advent Calendar – win one of 22 very special runner-up prizes!

photo-01-12-2016-12-38-02Aside from the Brixton Grand, you’ve got a chance to win one of 22 special runner-up prizes in the Brixton Bonus!

We’ve teamed up with Brixton businesses who donated 12 very special prizes. We will announce a new prize every day from 1st until 12th December – keep an eye on our social media, or come see the advent calendar at the B£ Cafe!

2 sessions of mosaics workshop with master mosaic artist Kes Young! Kes will work with you to design and learn to use tools and then grout your own unique piece as part of a chilled group mosaic class at the B£ cafe.

  • 2 December: jug by Omnis

    Hand made, hand painted jug from Omnis.

  • 3 Dec: Koi Ramen gyoza

    Free gyoza at Koi Ramen!

  • 4 Dec: cupcakes from Cupped

    24 Christmas cupcakes, a mix of gingerbread, mince pie, and vanilla bean Christmas tree. Boxed and delivered with a big red bow!

  • 5 Dec: design plate from Circus

    A Danish 1970s ceramic dish, designed by Bjorn Wimblad.

  • 6 December: BCA membership

    A year’s Friends of the Black Cultural Archives membership! Gives you exclusive invitations to special events at the BCA in Windrush Square, as well as other bonuses including free BCA branded tote bag, 10% discount in the BCA cafe and shop, and priority booking on events.

  • 7 December: £20 framing voucher from Studio 73

    The craftspeople at Studio 73 will expertly frame your beloved print or photo.

  • 8 December: Brixton Brewery tour and tasting
  • 9 December: Sunday lunch for two with wine at Salon
  • 10 December: Tagua Nut necklace from Diverse Gifts 
  • 11 December: Bottomless brunch at 384

Bottomless brunch for 2 people at 384 in January! A 2 hour sitting, with any bunch dish and bottomless prosecco, coffee and Bloody Marys. Whew.

  • 12 December: evening meal at cafe Van Gogh

Candelit evening meal for two at Cafe van Gogh on Brixton Road. You’ll get to sample their gourmet creative plant-based recipes.

B£ is also offering some very special prizes for this Bonus round – here are 10 more prizes you could win:

  • Free meal for 2 at the B£ Cafe
  • Free coffee/tea at the B£ Cafe for a week
  • B£ note set in presentation wallets (featuring all 2nd edition notes and the anniversary Deller note) (2 prizes)
  • The Great Brixton Book (2 prizes)
  • B£ mug + 2 t-shirts (2 prizes)
  • B£ bag + 2 t-shirts (2 prizes)

Have a look at our online shop for more details of each item, and good luck!

Buy your tickets at the B£ Cafe or online: brixtonpound.org/bonus-play

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-12-42-16

 

Could you donate a small gift for an older person who will be alone over the Christmas period?

The winter months are kicking in, and it’s time for mulled wine, carols, festive headgear and parties accompanied by barely tolerable Christmas pop songs. But not everybody in our community is fortunate enough to have friends or family around to enjoy the season with. We’re teaming up with Age UK‘s No one should have no one at Christmas campaign – and you, Brixton residents, B£ users, B£ Cafe customers – to try and bring a bit more warmth to older Lambeth residents this year.

Age UK, one of the organisations which received funding from our local grant scheme the Brixton Fund, is hosting a Christmas lunch on 25th December at the Vida Walsh Centre, just off Windrush Square, for older people who would otherwise not have someone to spend Christmas with. At the B£, we’re asking our customers and supporters whether they can donate a small gift, perhaps something you no longer have a use for, something you’ve made, or something bought at a local B£ business that can be wrapped and given as a small token. Please bring your donations to the B£ Cafe at 77 Atlantic Road – thank you!

We will also gladly accept any donations of wrapping paper, and if you could offer some of your time to help us wrap the gifts too, we’d be overjoyed. We’re planning to do that at the B£ Cafe on 21st and 22nd December.

Gifts don’t need to be large. Even a small thing can make someone’s Christmas. Some suggestions are:

  • Small packets of sweets/chocolates
  • Small packets of biscuits/crackers
  • Pots of jam/marmalade/honey  
  • Fruit: tangerines and oranges  
  • Dried fruit  
  • Hot chocolate/tea/ovaltine  
  • Gloves  
  • Socks  
  • Toiletries/soaps/shower gel  
  • 2017 diaries  
  • Small notebooks  
  • Small calendars  

You can also donate B£s to the Vida Walsh Centre ran by Age UK Lambeth – if you already have a B£ account, you can simply text “pay vida [donation amount]” to the B£ pay-by-text number (07926200421). Or if you prefer donating pounds sterling, you can text AUKL16 £4 to 70070 to give £4 to help buy Christmas lunch for an older person.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-14-26-01

#BrixtonBonus – Meet the Winners: Ashleigh and Paul

Stop us if you’ve seen this picture before… isn’t this the September Bonus winner, Paul? Guess what – Ashleigh, who won two Brixton Bonus runner-up prizes before, and who happens to be Paul’s wife, took home the jackpot B£1,000 in February! Congratulations ?

If you think the pair’s luck is a little too good to believe, here’s their secret: they are both “Brixton Bosses” – they each have an indefinite recurring entry for the maximum 10 tickets a month for each Brixton Bonus draw. Which, as evidenced by the results, definitely helps your chances to win! And if you sign up for a recurring entry with any number of tickets, you will receive very special rewards as a thank you from us.

All proceeds from Brixton Bonus go to the Brixton Fund, from which we give grants to local organisations of community benefit – see who we’ve funded so far. You are also supporting the Fund every time you spend electronic B£s (pay-by-text) or buy B£ merchandise at the B£ Shop or online.

IMG_20160309_100903

Ashleigh said she was delighted to win, and that the first thing she was going to do with her prize was make a donation to Brixton Soup Kitchen and the Brixton Fund. Amazing generosity, thank you!

The Gills have been regular and loyal B£ users for years. Paul was the first person we introduced in our Meet the User blog series: have a look at a guest blog post he wrote for us in September 2014, where he talks about why he uses B£ and all the personal connections to Brixton traders he’s made through using the local currency.

At the time when Ashleigh and Paul set up their 10 ticket/month recurring entries for Brixton Bonus, the top reward for being a Brixton Boss was a B£ t-shirt and lunch on us, but because of scheduling issues we opted for a breakfast instead, and one chilly October morning we met Ashleigh and Paul at Rosie’s in Market Row. They have been living in Brixton together for over a decade – and Paul, who grew up in South East London, for over two decades now. He told us when he moved here it was because he wanted to live somewhere with a tube station, which he finds amusing now as he cycles to work every day. 

As a regular B£ user, Paul first heard of the Brixton Bonus through our online communication channels: “The idea of the lottery and the message behind it was really inspiring, so we wanted to be a part of it. And it’s so easy to have the 10 tickets bought automatically each month, all I need to do is keep my balance topped up. We appreciate not everyone can afford that £10 each month, so we have donated winnings locally as we have always done via B£, just considerably more than our usual monthly donations.”

“Using B£ is definitely a Brixton badge of pride. Whenever I see the sticker in the window I am confident they will treat me as a regular, that even if there’s a new staff member who may not be familiar with it, the owner will be comfortable taking a pay-by-text payment. And so many businesses still offer 10% off when you pay in B£s. For small businesses working on small margins it’s difficult to do discounts like that, but even if it’s a seasonal or temporary or lunchtime-only promo, it’s hard not to be incentivised. For that reason we’ve always supported Rosie’s, or used to go to the Breadroom (which is now sadly closed) every weekend with our kids.”

“B£1,000 is a lot of money! I was at Market Row Wines and the owner Dave looked at my phone, saw my B£ balance with the prize money included, and was like, “hey, I should get a ticket too!” Knowing someone who won makes it seem more real I guess! I still have my regular standing order for B£s every month. I’ve given some of the prize money to Brixton Foodbank and Brixton Soup Kitchen. We bought some wine at Market Row Wines, we’re going to go out to dinner this week. Other than that the prize means our Christmas is sorted – we’ll buy all our gifts in B£ businesses. I will also definitely spend more at Brixton Cycles now that they take pay-by-text. It’s great that they managed to find a new premises and stay in Brixton, it would’ve been such a loss for the locals to see it go, and especially because cycling is such a big thing now, it’s a no brainer to use your local co-operative bike shop!”

“B£ could expand to a mile radius – there are so many small businesses that aren’t located in the very centre of Brixton. Last Sunday we went on a walk and popped into this coffee shop near Loughborough Junction, Blue Turtle Oasis. We didn’t realise they took B£, but they do, and that was a very pleasant surprise.”

“Our kids love B£ too. They’ve got all the B£ notes which they received as gifts – they are real pieces of art, too beautiful to spend. They see us spending pay-by-text all the time though, and understand that it helps independent businesses, understand the reasons behind the currency. Maybe this is something you could encourage more, to have parents give their children B£s as pocket money, to promote local spending? You could even branch out into schools! Corpus Christi Primary School is listed on your Directory, I wonder how they use B£s. The Parent Teacher Associations could benefit from it, ask for donations, or use it to source stuff locally. I love the idea of local business intersecting with schools, offering work experience. Our primary school PTA produces a school calendar every year with pictures done by children and parents. This year the theme is food, and many pages are sponsored by local food businesses. All the money raised is going back to the PTA to be used for school trips, inviting people for talks… This could definitely work together with B£ somehow.

So many people move to Brixton, and they could benefit from knowing more about the local area, local businesses. And it would be important for them too to support the community assets which have been here for years. It’s so sad to see places like A&C Continental go, although great that the B£ Shop can keep using that space for now. But it’s a shame when business owners who worked so hard on these places are forced to move, like Kaff Bar – they put so much effort into that space. The B£ should be making local businesses more visible – to discover some of them you have to be “in the know”, not every place has a sign. The Brixton Fund could give advice or surgeries, even TEDx format talks, on how to set up a business. You can get small business advice when you open a business account with a bank, but not much independent advice is offered. And this could help with jobs for young people too – right now unless you know someone, you can’t get work experience, and you’re a lot more likely to know a small business owner – they might be your neighbour, or another member of the local community.”

Merry BriXmas!

The B£ Shop (at 3 Atlantic Rd) is now also open on weekends – so you can stop by when you’re doing your Christmas shopping. And while you’re at it, why not get some brand new B£ merchandise? 

mugsBag

Woman-blueMan-Grey

Man-OrangeWoma-black-2

Woman-RedCUzw1JGW4AA-Mq8.jpg-large

1806-BXP-A3gicleeCameron-page-001

We’ve got mugs, tote bags, posters, t-shirts in different cuts and colours designed by This Ain’t Rock’n’Roll, the same guys responsible for the iconic B£ notes – and they all look pretty rocking. 

envelope front

envelope back

And for the notes, we’ve got these cool presentation wallets that make them perfect gifts for just about anyone.

We’ve also got the Great Brixton Book which showcases amazing photography from Brixton:

Great Brixton coverGreat Brixton introduction page

Great Brixton page 188-189

As well as a book on punk philosophy, campaign t-shirts from an array of local actions like Save the Arches, Friends of Stockwell Skatepark, Save Cressingham Gardens, and Ritzy Living Wage, plus snacks, drinks, cakes, and other produce from local makers.

IMG_5513Untitled design (1)

We’re pretty confident you can find a gift for anyone here, and every sale contributes to the Brixton Fund, and thus supports Brixton and its community. Could you ask for more of a win/win situation?

PS. If you don’t live in Brixton, most of these goodies are available in our online shop 🙂

B£ heads to Calais

Max of the B£ is driving to Calais this Saturday morning to drop off donated supplies and help out a bit. You could easily get involved too!

If  you have any of the following items and would like to donate them please drop them into the Brixton Pound Shop (3 Atlantic Road, SW9 8HX) by 1pm Friday 27th November in order for them to make it onto the ferry! Anything you can give will be much appreciated.

(Although please do not be tempted to donate any items not listed here, as there is no storage in Calais for surplus items.)

· SHOES, mainly in men’s sizes (these are really badly needed)
· Big coats
· Waterproofs (in the form of coats/ trousers/ tarpaulin)
· Good quality trousers/ jeans
· Long johns/general warm underclothes
· Boxers
· Socks
· Gloves, scarves, hats
· Warm sleeping stuff
· Towels
· Shampoo
· Food – tinned or dry

Many thanks!

Other links for Calais solidarity:

Calais Migrant Solidarity: http://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/
Caravans for Calais: http://caravansforcalais.org.uk/
CalAid: http://www.calaid.co.uk/

A #BriXmas gift guide from Chloe/Made In Brixton

This gift guide is written by Chloe who runs a blog called Made In Brixton. Chloe is a born and bred Londoner and has spent most of her childhood in Brixton, where she still lives (after brief spells in Australia and the mysterious land of North Of The River). She specialised in ceramics during her degree in Applied Arts, and now works in the tea industry. “I basically jumped from the making of the cup to the making of the drink that goes in it,” says Chloe, “With this blog I’m going to try and share some of the things I love (food, art, inspiration) and I hope that you find it all as influential and exciting as I do.” Chloe’s motto is: “Try new things, be adventurous and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”

This post was commissioned by B£ and first appeared on Chloe’s blog, Made in Brixton.

BRIXTON-HAMPERS

The gift hamper has been around for many years, mostly given at Christmas and is traditionally a gift containing small non-perishable food items, particularly seasonal favourites such as fruitcake, nuts, jams, biscuits, honey, smoked or dried meats, and cheese.

Some hampers contain tea & coffee, and might also include a cup and saucer. More often than not these hampers were luxury and  contained high-end items such as tins of caviar or bottles of wine.

Outside the UK the Christmas hamper is more usually called a gift basket and does not necessarily contain food items. Non-food gift baskets are frequently themed, such as baskets containing luxury bath items including scented soaps and towels, or beauty baskets with skincare products. These gift baskets are also popular for occasions other than Christmas such as baby showers and more corporate gifts where you don’t necessarily know the person that you are giving it to – A Safe gift option.

If you ask anyone to name a company that sells hampers they will most likely tell you Fortnum & Mason, Harrods or Selfridges. All their hampers come ready made and although you can pick the theme, the contents are usually fixed. To me this is a bit like the selection box of chocolates, where you like the majority of the chocs but always get left with the green triangles that no one eats.

This got me thinking …. What would I put in my hamper if I could choose?

I’d choose local produce, handmade items of a crafty nature and I’d look for traceability.
As I rarely buy for people I don’t know then I’d like to choose myself and make it personal!

And so – I took myself off around Brixton to find some alternative options and to see just how local I could go, even deciding to use the Brixton Pound too! Below are a few of my suggestions for putting together you’re own unique Christmas hampers (whilst supporting local businesses!)

B£ HISTORY

The Brixton Pound was launched in September 2009 as a physical paper-based currency and was followed in September 2011 by the launch of the electronic B£ pay-by-text platform. Around 250 businesses currently accept paper B£ and over 160 have pay-by-text accounts.

The Brixton Pound is one of five local currencies that currently run in the UK, and was the first in an urban setting. The others are Totnes, Lewes, Stroud and Bristol and others are in the pipeline.

Cornercopia

65 Brixton Village Market, SW9 8PS
http://brixtoncornercopia.co.uk

Snuggled away in the heart of Brixton Village, this store already offers a wide range of ready made hampers starting from £26- £47. All the products are sourced locally either in Brixton or in the surrounding areas, and each product comes with its own story: Brixton Chutney made from the village veg, bees from South London for their honey etc.

They also sell all the items individually so you can make up your own hamper on site. They  have hessian sacks, boxes, baskets, pie tins etc. all of which can be made to your personal requirements.

I’d advise you to choose this option and go at a quiet time as it’s much more pleasurable for both you and the staff to be able to take your time with choosing and preparing. The Cornercopia crew are all very helpful and very knowledgeable – they will gladly help you to choose should you need it!

You can also choose to buy something separately from the kitchen department of Cornercopia and take it to the cafe to be wrapped with other purchases!

Their best selling hamper (unsurprisingly) is the Brixton Village Hamper and they are offering 10% off your purchase with the B£ :-)!!!

If your friends and family aren’t as foodie as mine, or you need stocking filler inspiration, then there are some other really cute options:

Knitted reindeer pack – Faux Animals. Comes with Pattern, Wool, and knitting needles £36-45 depending on the animal (fox sells best).

Woolen blankets from Wales

Hand made aprons from Peckham by Scobel Clothing  (could be for garden or ceramics too 😉 come in various one-off designs and prices.

Baubles

Ceramics, including – The Possibilities Are Endless’, featuring ornithological drawings by Edwyn Collins

Cook Book – Brixton Village cook book by Miss South. (They have a book signing for this on the 6th December where they will have hot toddies!)

And a huge range of traditional and hand-made stocking fillers from £1-10!

Their Christmas opening times are:

Home store – Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm (until 9pm Thursdays and Fridays for late-night shopping)
Deli – Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm (until 11pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday)

Events:

Cornercopia have a Christmas shopping event on the 11th Dec, Pop-up Kitchen on Friday and Saturday evenings in December – check their website for full details!

Cornercopia take brixton pounds by text as well as cash!

10% discount with B£ in the kitchen store and free tea or coffe with purchases over £10 in the cafe during the week * please ask in store for details

It is clear that Cornercopia are all set for fulfilling your hamper needs, whether bespoke or ready-made, but I wanted to see what I could whip up from a willing local retailer who might not be so au-fait with the idea of the Christmas Hamper tradition.

A&C Continental

3 Atlantic Rd, London SW9 8HX

A&C Continental

A fabulous deli on Atlantic road. You’ll recognise it by the huge variety of fresh herbs and exotic vegetables outside the front. They don’t sell pre-made hampers but definitely fulfil the requirements for making up your own and it was the perfect place for me to try some hamper experimenting of my own!

I took down my own hampers and the co owner José Cardoso helped me to put together some themed gift hampers for my friends and family…..

Mushroon

Coffee and cake

Sweet tooth

Cheese and chutney

All the food channels have foodie gift ideas and one that seems popular this year is jars of ingredients. Lauraine Pascal had jars of dry ingredients for making ginger bread for example. Now I’d like to say I don’t have  a terribly sweet tooth (I’m sure everyone else will disagree) and therefore i wanted something more savoury, so we put together paella pans with the spices to make the classic dish – 2 to 14 serving sizes available with prices starting form £6.60 and the smoked paprika spices or paella spices were £2.75- £4.75

If the idea of making something up your self fills you with fear then there are lots of other Christmas options that this store offers:

A vast range of Panettone in various sizes (£1.65-£25)

Lots of classic Italian biscuits and nougat – the perfect dinner party gift!

Cool secret santa gifts – Potted herbs – bay, Thyme, Rosemary all £3.50

Fresh chestnuts and Quince and all your other stockingfiller and Christmas dinner party needs.

Opening times:

Mon – Sat 8am -8pm

Sun CLOSED

Christmas:

Open for a special one-off Sunday service on Sun 21st

24th closing at 6pm

They take B£ in cash only.

Amazingly friendly, multi lingual, helpful staff who are on hand with brilliant tips and advice. There’s even a free chocolate Santa for crying children or starving bloggers 😉

Parissi

76 Atlantic Rd, London SW9 8PX

A new addition to the Brixton family – this cafe is right at the end of the string of shops on Atlantic road. They serve fresh cakes and meze style breakfast lunch and dinners all cooked on site. Not the most obvious of Hamper making venues but they have some fabulous take away and made to order options!

The owner helped me to make up a few hamper options with his delicious selection of hand make cakes and biscuits.

We chose from Biscuits filled with caramel & amaretto, sprinkled with cinnamon (£3.95), Walnut & Belgian Chocolate (£4.75), Almond flakes and apricot jam (3.95)

They have a local artist that sells his Teasets with prices starting from  £14

And Allpress Coffee £7.50-£25

If you are a little more organized they can also make treats to order! You just need to allow a day or two in advance:

Minced pies made with puff pastry from £1.50( brilliant dinner party treat)
Large Orange and Polenta Cakes from £8.50
Panatone
Chutneys and Jams

Opening times:

Mon 7-10
Tues CLOSED
Wed-Thurs 7-10
Fri 7- Midnight
Sat 8- Midnight
Sun 9-8

Christmas Eve – closing at 5pm
Boxing day 11-5

Free Spanish Guitar evening and mulled wine on 22nd Dec

NYE party details TBC but keep your ears open for details and tickets!

So! It turns out you can make your own hampers & gift boxes and support both a local currency & local businesses all at once! It’s a great way to give unique gifts, do some good doing it and have a lot of fun finding gift ideas in some sometimes unlikely places. It makes the whole event, well – a bit more of an EVENT! Happy hampering!

 

Thank you to Chloe! Merry BriXmas 🙂 

#YourPound: Meet the User – Francis

Over the last two years we’ve been introducing you to our traders – independent business owners who are part of the Brixton Pound family. In this new series we’d like to introduce you to the members of the community who are just as significant: the Brixton Pound users! In the previous months you’ve met PaulAliciaManda, and Vincent, and today we’d like you to meet Francis!

image1

Francis Walden is a saxophone player and jazz musician who’s lived in Brixton for 9 years. He lives on a little street just off Ferndale Road – where the post office is, and where he initially lived when he first moved to Brixton. “I didn’t know the area well, I used to be in Earlsfield. The flat on Ferndale Road was the first one I saw, and I loved it straight away – got it without seeing any others! It’s funny cause it was the same story with our current house – we saw it, it was great, so we took it! It’s a small street so I know most of my neighbours, it’s just 8 houses each side. It has a very nice atmosphere and feels really safe, everyone recognises each other.”

He also instantly warmed to the area and became a regular at Salon and Market Row Wines (“Conveniently, they are right next door to each other so you can buy cheese *and* wine in one go!”), Burnt Toast Cafe, Franco Manca, Bookmongers… “Does Brixton Cycles take B£ as well? [it does! – B£] I cycle everywhere. Actually I don’t eat at Franco Manca much anymore because my girlfriend and I refuse to queue. I just call and order, they say come in 10, I cycle down and think, look at these mugs standing in line, see ya! It’s odd – young people seem to enjoy queueing, like then they’re part of some buzz. Like they just came for this thing specifically and don’t see that within 30 yards there’s a whole lot of other choices.”

“The market has changed loads. A few years ago it was threatened with closure. Daniel from Burnt Toast Cafe, he and his partner won green cards to the US in the green card lottery and were going to move to Brooklyn. I was pissed off because I used to go there to buy my bread everyday, and now they were moving to Brooklyn! There wasn’t much footfall, I’d hang out there and it would be very quiet. And just at that moment it all changed! Within 6 months it was a busy business, and they never went to New York – chose Brixton over Brooklyn. I love the market: I’ve always used the fishmongers, the butchers, the fruit and veg stalls, the market traders who’ve been here for decades. But I never came for a meal or a night out. Now it’s a wonderful balance – traditional market traders are still here, and there’s loads of places to eat – I hope it can stay this way. You wouldn’t want to see the old traders pushed out.”

Francis first started using B£ in December 2 years ago: “I can remember it actually, it was when you gave 10% extra with each top up, I’ve seen it around or in an email… So I bought £200’s worth in early December and was just running out on New Years Eve. We were playing a gig in the countryside somewhere, going on stage at 11:30pm, and I remembered – I have to buy more B£s before midnight! So I ran outside into a field, frantically looking for signal, to top-up my account and get the free 10%! Once you top up it doesn’t feel like you’re spending money, more like I’m getting free stuff – it’s clever. And I still get 10% off at Market Row Wines!”

Francis has played Brixton Academy twice, with Amy Winehouse’s band in which he played for years. He ends up playing locally quite a bit: at Hootananny’s or the Jamm. “Last summer I decided to do it more and ran a weekly Sunday night jazz at the Market House pub for a few weeks, it was great fun. The Effra does jazz and it’s a really good scene, I should really go more regularly. Another great sax player, Dave O’Higgins, lives down the road in Brixton, he’s a good friend. I’m touring a lot so I end up being away, but I’d love to play locally more often – but I have to spend time with my girlfriend too!”

Francis is actually getting married this month – he and his girlfriend Rebecca got engaged in Brockwell Park, and then went to Burnt Toast Cafe to celebrate with their favourite: the frytato. “Oh, it’s cracking! Definitely my favourite, next to that bread I used to buy at Burnt – they’ve now stopped selling it to take away, but you can still have it to eat in there. Wild Caper also does a really nice pumpkin seed loaf, and Salon has great sourdough. There’s great food at Cornercopia, Mama Lan, Fish Wings & Tings, and that Colombian place next door, El Rancho De Lalo – they have huge plates of meat! Pay by text is so convenient, but the cash – so lovely, so colourful! I probably shouldn’t tell you this but I gave away some notes to friends – some collect money from all over the world, why not Brixton? Oh, I didn’t know you could buy collector’s packs! Almost all my gifts last year and the year before that were from the market – from Brixi, or Rachel & Malika’s – they’re a nice pair who travel around the world and bring back scarves, jewellery, and pretty things from all over the world. And if you need a department store there’s Morleys. We’ve got everything here in Brixton – you don’t have to leave!”

“When I’m not on tour, I’m home during the day. I mostly work in the evenings, so I come down to the market every morning to buy stuff for lunch, for the day. I get fish from Jeffries, fresh fruit and veg, bread. During the day I’m on my own, practising, so it’s so nice to  pop down, see some smiling faces, talk to traders. It feels like a social experience. With B£s, I feel very smug: I belong here, I’m local because I’ve got local currency. Especially now that there’s so many people coming down from all over the place – which is great, but it’s nice to have a little badge that identifies you as a local. Sometimes someone sees me using pay by text and asks about it, so I explain how it works. Speaking of which, can you show me how to work the app?”

 

Would you like to be featured in our next Meet The User post? We could meet you for a chat over lunch or tea/coffee, or you could write us a guest blog. Drop us a line at info@brixtonpound.org!

#YourPound: Meet the User – Vincent

Over the last two years we’ve been introducing you to our traders – independent business owners who are part of the Brixton Pound family. In this new series we’d like to introduce you to the members of the community who are just as significant: the Brixton Pound users! In the previous months Paul wrote us a guest post, we had a chance to meet AliciaManda wrote about her pledge to shop local at BriXmas, and today we would like you to meet Vincent!

Vincent

Vincent is a champagne importer and transport planner. He’s lived in Brixton for 4 years now, steadily moving South, currently on the very top of Brixton Hill. “At this rate of rent increases, I will be in Croydon soon, and then in Brighton next year,” he laughs. His family in France make champagne, and he helps them import it to the UK. Brixton is a home for him for another few years at least. “I moved here because I had friends here. People complain a lot about bus congestion in central Brixton and the tube escalators – this doesn’t apply to me as I cycle everywhere. I do most of my deliveries on bike, you get a bit of fresh air and some exercise. I spend less monthly on TfL than on B£ for sure.”

He first signed up because you used to get B£11 for £10. “Now I don’t save as much, but I just keep using it – it makes me feel more part of the community. But you should bring back the 10% off. This is London – people need incentives, they need to see clearly what the benefits are, even if they know they should be using it for the good of the community.” How does he spend his B£s? Getting a haircut from Dorian (Barber de Seville on Coldharbour Lane), eating Honest Burgers, and in bars and pubs like Seven @ Brixton, Market House and the White Horse, where he doesn’t have to queue, just wave the phone with a confirmation text. “With B£ you get to meet the owners. I get along so well with Dorian, the owner of Barber de Seville. But in all the places, you pay in B£ and the owners remember you.” He also likes Brixi and always takes friends for Japanese street food in Okan. When he lived on Railton Road, he memorised the opening hours of Kaff and would frequently make a stop there on the way home, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays when they’re open late. He hasn’t spent any B£ in the service area yet, and he’s not sure about buying any BriXmas presents. “20 Storey is too edgy for France, I don’t know what half the things are. And the bookshop, Bookmongers, you can find every book in the world there, doesn’t take pay-by-text. In France we’re spoiled for good food. Noone in France would eat a Christmas pudding.”

Vincent is a big B£ advocate. “You don’t always carry a wallet. This system just works. I mean, it works when you have signal! At the White Horse, I never get signal. But the staff are really good and know how it works. If there’s new people, sometimes they don’t know about the B£, then I get to show them how the system works. It’s not annoying because you get to talk to them, it’s a conversation starter.”

He’s noticed that some of his favourite places are changing, though. Honest Burgers, one of his favourites, is now a small chain: “It would be nice if other branches of pop-ups that became successful, like Honest Burgers, also took B£. They change little by little with the “success”, and I think we’re not going to enjoy them much longer. The market is changing as well. It’s fine when it’s still phase 1 of this change. It’s phase 2 which is scary, when Waitrose and Pizza Express and other chains come in.” Vincent is also very dissatisfied with property prices. “If I want to buy a flat, I can’t do it here, nobody normal can buy a house here.” He does a quick calculation. “Who earns that? Who buys those flats?”

But Vincent really likes the neighbourhood, and taking part in the local life. “I’m interested in the area, that’s why I follow the news. I have a Google Alert for Brixton, follow the Brixton Buzz. I like going on the Urban 75 forums, to read what it was like before, what places were called and what they looked like – you can see the evolution. When I first moved here 20 Storey was a barber shop with a tattoo parlour at the back and an ice cream stall at the front – they had everything! I’m still in touch with the barber, Palu, as he likes cycling, and I like cycling too. I started drinking coffee because of Brixton Village. Where Rosie’s is now, or maybe the shop next to it, there was a coffee shop with speciality coffee. I didn’t drink coffee, but the guy made me an espresso one day and said, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay for it. I’m French, I always go for a good deal. He’s giving me this for free? Sure. It was actually delicious, so I paid for it! I can now tell the difference between a good independent coffee shop and the averageness of the high street big coffee brands thanks to that chap.

Now, like Will Smith, I go to Federation. I saw Gordon Ramsay once, he came to The Joint. Dorian managed to get some photos of Naomi Campbell when she was in Brixton. It’s good to see Chuka, the local MP, about and using social media. Other politicians do it only a month before the election. I follow him on Twitter, and he comes up lots on my Google search for Brixton. It’s so easy to keep up with what’s going on with social media these days.”

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in Brixton. Every year I go to the Lambeth Country Show and Brixton Splash. I didn’t go to the fireworks this year though, for the same reason as everyone else: I didn’t want to pay. But the place still feels like a community. My brother from France says, whenever he comes to visit, that it feels like a small town within a big one. We had a street party in our street this year too, I brought some champagne to that. There’s an email group for two or three neighbouring streets, and it’s nice to know what’s happening. Now we’re raising money for a ping pong table and trees – can B£ help with that?”

 

Would you like to be featured in our next Meet The User post? We could meet you for a chat over lunch or tea/coffee, or you could write us a guest blog. Drop us a line at info@brixtonpound.org!