Tag Archives: meet the user

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!

#BrixtonBonus Meet The Winner: Miss South

Congrats to the latest Brixton Bonus winner, Miss South! A Brixton food blogger and food and drink editor at the Brixton Blog and Bugle, she is also the author of the amazing Recipes from Brixton Village, a collection of recipes contributed from traders as well as her own recipes showcasing Brixton produce.

Miss South was actually one of the first to start playing Brixton Bonus when we launched it last June – read her article from back then on what she’d spend her prize on if she won. 12 months later, she is actually a Brixton Bonus Thousandaire, and wrote another piece for us now that she actually has B£1,000 to spend! 

“I’ve been a big fan of the Brixton Pound since it started over five years ago, but to my eternal shame I never used it that much. I kept forgetting to go to Morleys for paper notes and I blew all the credit I put on the text account on wine at a party B£ hosted the same night and never topped up again.

Then the Brixton Pound launched the Brixton Bonus and I decided this was an excellent time to get involved. In signing up on the website, I discovered I had £14 in my text account from someone buying Recipes from Brixton Village from me at the Lambeth Country Show two years ago in the pouring rain. 

Perfect for a disorganised person, I set up a standing order for two tickets a month by the magic of the internet and forget about it. Until I got an unexpected phone call to say I’d won the £1000 prize and then I definitely remembered I’d played!

Registered in my real name, this was the genuine luck of the draw and I was thrilled. The beauty of the Bonus for me is that’s all disposable income to spend with local independent traders in my own community. I can’t accidentally fritter it away on the gas bill. I’ve got to go out and spend it proactively instead.

I’d done a piece for B£ when they launched the Bonus as to what I’d spend it on if I won and interestingly I haven’t done a single thing off that list yet. Partly because the list of traders who accept B£ has increased so much, and because I also realised it was a good way to do things locally that don’t just involve me eating for once.

Instead I wanted to finally get some stuff framed that’s been sitting round my flat for years looking forlorn, and need to go in to see Studio 73 about that. I’ve been having a few niggling health issues and immediately booked in with both Brixton Therapy Centre and Brixton Community Acupuncture to ease those (or kid myself I’m not just getting old!)

I plan to make a donation to both Brixton Advice Centre and Brixton and Norwood Food Bank who both do fantastic community work and very rarely have disposable income or choices on how to spend their money.

And then I might just eat my way round Brixton. There’s always somewhere new to try round here and it would be a shame to not to stuff myself for the good of the community…”

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How can you be the next winner?

It’s very simple: buy a ticket online or at the B£ Shop for £1 – you can get anywhere between 1 and 10 tickets to help your chances – and on Friday, 1st July you can walk away with one of the following:

  • A Brixton Grand – B£1,000 all of your own to spend on whatever you fancy!
  • 4 cocktails to share with a friend at the snazzy Seven at Brixton, official Brixton Fund partner.
  • One of 5 B£20 runners-up cash prizes to treat yourself with

And if you fancy some extra rewards, we give them out to anyone who sets up a recurring monthly entry, starting at £1/month – more details here. Most importantly of all, all revenue from the Brixton Bonus goes into the Brixton Fund!

#BrixtonBonus Meet The Winner: Urszula

Urszula won the April draw of the Brixton Bonus. She joins the growing crowd of winners, who are featured in our Winners Gallery – have a look! And make sure you get some Bonus tickets before the next draw on 27th May – who knows, it could be you next time! Better yet, set up a recurring entry to never miss a chance for a Brixton Grand – and get some extra goodies as a reward from us.

“I read about the Bonus in the Bugle where there was an article about it. And I thought that you stood a better chance of winning the Bonus than the National Lottery! I had been playing for a few months before I won, and thought that whether I win or not, it’s really good that the money raised goes towards funding local groups around Brixton. Giving a chance to people who perhaps would find it hard to get funding otherwise. Everyone deserves a chance, and when you work hard and have an idea sometimes you just need a little bit of help to keep you going and spur you on. And then winning was just a surprise!”

“I would like to take my family out for a meal when everyone’s at home! Other than that I have been to my favourite shop Market Row Wines, I think that was the first place where I bought something with my winnings. Then some pizza from Franco Manca. And also new gloves from Brixton Cycles! It has made me more aware of which shops take B£ and which do not. I do think it would be really good if more shops joined in the scheme. People want to spend their money locally; more shops just need to be convinced. But yes, it has made me find out more about spending in local shops.”

“I’m also going to donate some of my winnings to the Ebony Horse Club in Loughborough Junction. I think opportunities for people to have a go at things they normally wouldn’t get the chance to do are great!

“I do think it has been really good that B£ has had a physical embodiment on the high street. It makes people much more aware of them. Because it is on the high street it meant I could go in and talk to a real person and find out more about the Bonus and what it does.”

“I’ve lived in Brixton for 30 years now, and I’ve always shopped in the market, the health food shop, the fabric shop, veg shop, Franco Manca… And just the covered markets in general. Before that I used to come here when I was a student, the markets have always been a really good place to shop: I would come to buy fruit and veg here because there was no market near where I lived. You get all kinds stuff: fish, fruit, fabrics… You could always buy unusual things too – the Reliance Arcade was a great place for that! Even my mum in the 50s used to shop in the market when she first came to London. All you need in a neighbourhood is a park and a market.”

Would you wanna win B£1,000 while supporting the local economy and the Brixton Fund too? Go ahead, play the Brixton Bonus!

#BrixtonBonus – Meet the Winner: Zoe

Zoe Adjonyoh, who runs Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen in POP Brixton, won the March draw of the Brixton Bonus. She joins the small crowd of winners, who are featured in our Winners Gallery – have a look! And make sure you get some Bonus tickets before the next draw on 29th April – who knows, it could be you next time! Better yet, set up a recurring entry to never miss a chance for a Brixton Grand – and get some extra goodies as a reward from us.

B£’s apprentice Dominic had a chat with Zoe about Brixton, her business, and how she plans on spending her B£1,000:

When did you first come to Brixton?

I used to come to Brixton a lot as a kid, when my Dad emigrated from Ghana he lived in Brixton with his Aunt at the time. I grew up in Woolwich but later on when I was a student, Brixton was a good destination to go out for parties.

So what are your favourite things to do in Brixton?

Before I started the business I liked going clubbing and dance nights too but now I don’t have much free time to socialize, so when I do I like to get a cocktail from Seven. I also go into the village when I can to have dinner at Fish Wings and Tings. I also just like walking around Brixton, when I go down into the market I just enjoy chatting to the people in the market.
Brixton is a very vibrant, fun, friendly place and that’s why people want to come here.

What major changes have you seen from when you first came to Brixton to now?

I think Brixton has changed substantially, it used to have a vibe in the 80s and 90s where there was a lot of tension; race politics was a big deal, not just in Brixton but in lots of places across London where there was a strong black community. Race relations with the police weren’t great and it was a period of change for how people addressed those issues, a lot of stuff happened in the 80s politically, not just in Brixton, that forced changes for the better. In my mind Brixton has always been very colourful and live and energetic and that is still true today, but we have seen a migration into Brixton from other parts of London and other parts of the UK: the demographic has changed slightly, there are more people here with more spending power.

Do you think that’s a good or a bad thing?

I think when it’s balanced it’s okay, it’s ok to have new money coming in, but you don’t want that to happen at the expense of the people already living here, which is difficult. What’s great about Brixton is how community minded it is, which is quite rare in London. It thinks of itself as a community, and even people that come into Brixton respect that community and that’s important. Brixton has become a destination for people to go out, eat good food, listen to good music and celebrate all of the colourful things that Brixton provides culturally.

There’s always going to be a downside to “progress” because unfortunately when a destination becomes a popular place to go to, the knock-on effect is that there are rent increases and value of land gets higher, and that prices out a lot of people that have been in Brixton potentially all their life. It links to what’s happening with Brixton Arches, businesses that have been there for 20, 30 years are under threat for financial reasons. And you would hope that some consideration is put into keeping cornerstones of the community alive rather than bulldozing everyone out just to get more money out of residents.

Is it progress? I don’t know, but it’s definitely development which is always going to have controversies surrounding it. What’s great about Pop Brixton is the idea that we are occupying land that was empty beforehand so we haven’t displaced any other businesses or anything else. I think every business in here, especially through the giveback scheme, is really concerned not to be disharmonious with the Brixton community. I in particular want to be part of it, it’s important for me and it’s important for my business. It’s the thing with displacing people in communities in favour of financial gain.

Where did your interest in cooking come from?

I’ve always been curious about food, I’ve always loved eating food and cooking for people and particularly Ghanaian food. My Dad used to come home with traditional Ghanaian ingredients that were mysterious and exotic and I was intrigued and wanted to know more about it and wanted to know how to cook it. It was also a strong link for me back to those cultural roots in Ghana because we didn’t have any Ghanaian relatives in London. Both my parents are immigrants so we were quite a small family and didn’t have any extended family to speak of. We didn’t have access directly to that cultural heritage, so the food was a way in and something that I connected with and it’s just grown and grown.

When did you first decide you wanted to open a restaurant?

I’ve been doing Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen since 2011, I started doing supper clubs, event catering and street food, and we still do all those things. Pop Brixton is our first proper restaurant space.

Did you always plan to open a restaurant from a young age?

No, I never had an ambition to become a cook or a restaurateur or anything like that. It’s been a peculiar journey but an exciting and interesting one. It’s been a very organic process I didn’t decide one day I wanted to do – this just kind of kept happening.

So how did you get into it?

It started one day when I set up a little stall outside my house selling a dish which is basically peanut butter stew or soup which is a Ghanaian dish. I used to cook it a lot for my friends, it’s one of my favourite foods that I ate growing up. So one day when there was a festival going on in my neighbourhood I thought I might be able to make some money and it proved very popular and created a nice social gathering outside my house. People kept coming back and then wanted me to do it again, so the following year I turned my flat into a restaurant, I put in lots of tables and chairs and African fabrics and it had a real restaurant atmosphere. I called it Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen and we sold out every day for three days and were constantly full, people were trying to book and come back but I could not continue like that because it was my living room. I took down people’s email address so that next time, a few months later, I could notify people. From word of mouth it became more frequent and got some press, and then from there I started to be hired for catering and asked to residencies.

What would you say your business offers?

It offers tasty Ghanaian food at affordable prices in a restaurant setting. Our whole concept is about bringing food from Ghana and making it accessible; making as many people as we can possibly reach aware of how great the Ghanaian food and ingredients are, and just about celebrating food culture from Ghana. We do everything we can to support and raise the profile of food from Africa generally and specifically Ghana.

Where did the interest in the Brixton Pound come from and why did you accept it?

When I first got here I was very keen to take the Brixton Pound because I think it’s a great idea, it’s a great way of keeping money in the local economy and encouraging people to shop local, which is something that aligns with my ethos of how I want my business to function and run, and because it was so easily ready and available to sign up I decided to do it!

Do you have any other future plans or projects planned?

I’ve got quite a lot of different projects in the pipeline right now; we have a cookbook coming out in April next year, I’m opening a second space hopefully by the end of the year outside of Brixton. Possibly launch our own brand of sauces and ready meals so people can eat our stuff at home easily. The idea behind opening it here was to test what we do in a restaurant setting and see if it will be a viable business with a view to opening a full restaurant in the next year or two. We are looking at a couple of potential sites for the future so hopefully by next year I’ll be able to open a second space that probably has at least 20 or 30 covers.

What will you do with your Brixton Bonus winnings?

I haven’t decided yet, but I’m sure at some point it will be spent on a staff night out at a local bar or restaurant, and I may also use it to give the team bonuses.

#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.

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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.”

#BrixtonBonus – Meet The Winner: Manda

Brixton Bonus has another winner! On the last Friday of January the Brixton Grand went to Manda Glanfield, a longtime B£ user and supporter, who wrote a very nice guest blog post for us last winter about shopping local for Christmas. Well, she will have even more opportunity to shop local all year round now with B£1,000 to spend!  Manda has told us lots of interesting things about her Bonus experience so far:

“It was my birthday on the Wednesday before the draw, and I was planning to have some friends over for dinner on Saturday, but instead I took them all out to Negril for a celebratory dinner on me! I used to live close to Negril, I love it. So that was a very nice thing to do, but I also want to start using B£s a lot more in my everyday.”

“But first of all, I want to thank everyone who plays Brixton Bonus, and say – it could be you next time! I had been playing since the lottery started in the summer, I was at Lambeth Country Show where you had your first draw. I had a recurring entry for one ticket a month, but in January I thought, I haven’t won anything yet, let’s up my recurring entry to five tickets and see what happens. And then boom! I won the big prize. I’m going keep my 5 tickets a month, that way I get these nice rewards and support the scheme.”

“I usually use B£ to buy gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and other occasions. I do that for a lot of reasons: to shop local, support independent businesses, but also because it gives the gifts a bit of a theme. I’m sure my nieces would prefer a gift voucher for TopShop, but I think there’s something nice about getting a handmade leather wallet or notebook from Malika. But right now, I want to challenge myself to spend B£s on more things I have to buy anyway, more essential stuff. I’m actually a bit broke, and I won a thousand pounds, so this is a great opportunity to see how many usual things I can buy with B£ – to save money, and to do things a bit differently.”

“It’s literally like being given a lot of vouchers – and it’s an adventure, to explore and discover what’s out there. I want to donate some of my prize too – I’ve already supported the Brixton and Norwood Foodbank. I was also thinking about something that’s a bit more of an experiment – I want to give a few of my friends B£20 each and see what they do with it, and I’d like them to report back to me about their experiences of spending it. Maybe that would get them to sign up and use B£s regularly after that? I think it should be quite a fun way of connecting. I might even set up a blog to document it all.”

“I want to try all these lovely food places that I wouldn’t normally be able to go to. Opus on Acre Lane is fantastic, and the owner is so proud to be accepting B£. He told me he was supporting the scheme from the start, was one of the first to sign up, and actually makes an effort to spend the B£s he earns in the area at other participating shops – it was really inspiring to hear. Another great place I went to was French & Grace – OMG, it was so delicious! I had a gorgeous wrap, and aubergine chips. Seriously, if you want a treat, get their aubergine chips with homemade harissa ketchup! I really want to buy their cookbook too, it’s so beautiful and full of yummy looking recipes. I even thought I could challenge myself to cook each recipe from there, and see how many ingredients I could buy in B£s. I already went to Faiz Foods in the village, and at first I only saw the side of the shop with fizzy drinks and cans of MSG, but I was very relieved to see they actually have lots and lots of fresh fruit and veg – I will definitely be buying there. And I know Brixton Whole Foods take B£s, and they sell the Old Post Office Bakery bread which I love. Oh, and for the next year or so I’m gonna be drinking nothing but Federation coffee – they sell amazing coffee from around the world, grind the beans for you, and tell you lots of info about the blend and where it’s from… it’s incredibly expensive, so I would normally never do this. But now I can!”

“I am also definitely going to Studio 73 to buy some art. It’s a massive extravagance to me, cause it’s expensive and not essential, but I would like to have more – I don’t have enough of it. Artist Martin Grover is a friend of mine, and he’s got his work there. I love lots of local artists and want to support them. It would be great if Urban Art Fair accepted B£s, even as part of the payment – it would make art a bit more accessible.”

“I spent a bit of time looking through the B£ Directory to see where I can spend B£s on some other things I need. I thought of something that’s possibly the most boring piece of life admin – I need to make a will. So I started calling up the solicitors listed on the Directory – unfortunately the one firm that accepts B£s doesn’t actually make wills. The few others either merged with bigger firms or have dropped off the scheme, which is a shame. I also had no luck finding a hardware shop – I need a new drill.. but the shop on Acre Lane you had listed wasn’t there anymore. Similar story with the gas supplier who could fix my boiler. So this was a bit of a difficult start!” [ed. – B£ was very grateful for this info, and we have amended the Directory accordingly – it’s just become so big it’s sometimes difficult to stay on top of the constantly changing business landscape, particularly with businesses who only accept the paper currency – so we appreciate feedback like this! Manda was very pleased to find out that Morleys accept B£s and is planning to get lots of everyday, practical things there 🙂 ]

“I live in West Norwoord, I moved there two years ago. I used to live closer to Brixton, near Negril. But now I’ll come into Brixton a lot more! It takes a while to gel with a new community. But now I play piano in a band, Los Domingos. We got together after an Afro-Cuban Big Band course at City Lit. It’s the kind of music that’s loud and energetic, you can’t really play on your own, so when the course finished we decided to start the band and keep playing together. We’ve been doing this for over a year now. Come see us at the West Norwood Feast, we play the next one on 3rd April.”

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how strange winning money is. The Friday of the draw I also actually bought a National Lottery ticket, I was at my local garage paying for something and the man at the till offered me one saying I could win 99 million pounds that day. OK, go on then, I said, and got two tickets. It was a bit random, and I haven’t ever bought a lottery ticket… maybe once, 20 years ago. And then 10 minutes later I noticed a missed call – and that was B£ getting in touch to say I won the Brixton Bonus! I actually haven’t checked these lottery tickets yet, maybe I’ve won 99 million pounds too? That would be quite strange though I imagine, I bet that actually changes your life in ways that might not be so good. But I’m really looking forward to what the Brixton Bonus experiment will bring – I’ll keep you posted! It feels like a huge responsibility to win a thousand pounds, especially when there’s so much need around, but with a percentage of every B£ spent going into the Brixton Fund, I am hoping that by spending B£s I am supporting local community projects.

#BrixtonBonus – Meet the winner: Kam

We have another Brixton Bonus winner! Kam Nathan, a first time Bonus player, took home B£1,000 on 30th October, which happened to be the day before her birthday! She joins the small crowd of Bonus winners, some of whom are featured in our Winners Gallery – have a look! And make sure you get some Bonus tickets before the next draw on 27th November – just in time for some BriXmas shopping!

It's Your Local Market

Kam lives on the Angell Town estate in Brixton, and first heard of the Brixton Bonus when she came to the launch of It’s Your Local Market, a new, weekly Saturday market created by Angell Town resident Andrea Brown to bring the community spirit back to the area and for residents to sell locally sourced food and affordable clothing and crafts. It’s been funded by the London Community Foundation. Kam came by the B£ stall, chatted to us, and bought a Bonus ticket – which she promptly forgot about… until she got the email from us!

 

 

It was my birthday on 31st so I feel blessed. I will spend some in Morleys, at the make up counter, for sure! And buy some Christmas bits for my family. But most of it will go on me! I would like go to Brixton Village to eat out – with the amount I won I could go every week to treat myself to a meal! That would be nice, I haven’t done that in a long time. And I like how a lot of food in the Village is healthy. I’d rather go there and eat something better than spend money at McDonald’s.”

photo credit: Evening Standard / Matt Writtle

photo credit: Evening Standard / Matt Writtle

“I work at a nursery. I’m also involved in a few projects at Angell Town – a children’s theatre project, My London which gets people to visit different places around town, to build social and cultural intelligence. These are part of a project Angell Town’s been running at the Evening Standard. I’m a mother of five, my oldest just turned 18 and the youngest is 2. My kids are almost more excited about the prize than I am! My younger son really wants some computer games, can I buy those with Brixton Pounds?”

“I’ve lived in Brixton most of my life, and seen many shops come and go. I think keeping money in the community is a good thing to do – I want to support local shops in Brixton. I used to come to A&C Continental Deli – they had the best carrots and pumpkins around. I haven’t used Brixton Pounds before, but knew about them, I’ve noticed signs in shops and knew that it keeps the money in the community. I will start using them more now! And I’m really glad that B£ keeps their pounds sterling at the Credit Union – I have an account there myself, it’s very good – it helps local people, gives them loans.”

“The best part about winning is that I’m going to treat myself! I haven’t had much chance to do that so this is very exciting.”

Would you like a chance to treat yourself as well? Go get some Bonus tickets before the next draw on 27th November – who knows, it could be you next time! Better yet, set up a recurring entry to never miss a chance for a Brixton Grand – and get some extra goodies as a reward from us.

Read more about all the Bonus winners to date in our Winners Gallery.

 

#BrixtonBonus – Meet the Winner: Will

We have another Brixton Bonus winner! Will Bugler was the lucky person who got B£1,000 in the August draw. He joins the small crowd of winners, some of whom are featured in our Winners Gallery – have a look! And make sure you get some Bonus tickets before the next draw on 25th September – who knows, it could be you next time! Better yet, set up a recurring entry to never miss a chance for a Brixton Grand – and get some extra goodies as a reward from us.

Become a…

You can set up your recurring entry here. You must have a B£ account, to register for one, go here. Entries must be set to recur indefinitely to unlock rewards (n.b. they can be cancelled at any time).

Brixton Pound met Will at the Market House pub on Coldharbour Lane to find out a bit more about him and his grand Bonus experience:

“I moved to Brixton five years ago with my girlfriend. That time’s gone really quick! I didn’t know anything about Brixton before I moved here. My family left London when I was five, and back then the area had a very different reputation,  so I came not knowing what to expect at all. It’s amazing how quickly you build a rapport with Brixton – it rubbed off on me pretty instantly.”

“It’s so vibrant, and such a mix of cultures. Of course I’m aware of how quickly it’s changing. Five years is nothing compared to how long some people have been here, and already it seems like there were barely any restaurants then, and now the whole neighbourhood has exploded with them. I’m aware of that change, but also conscious of the fact that I’m part of it. I think it’s important to have that awareness of being part of the process, so that you can support things that go the other way, make sure you contribute to something good.”

“The Brixton Pound is a great example, it’s an easy and tangible way of contributing to the area, keeping money circulating within it, of being more socially responsible. What makes Brixton great is its diversity, and using B£ is a very practical step towards preserving it. It’s sometimes tough to know how to change things, you often get the sense you’re stuck because it’s all governmental politics with issues such as increasing rent which is currently the biggest factor driving people out of the area. It’s a lot safer around here, but surely that doesn’t mean it has to be at the cost of diversity? You have to put pressure on politicians, but it’s completely different to have this power to do something different in your everyday life, like pay with B£s. It takes a conscious effort, but more people should be aware of their impact, and how they can offset at least some of it.”

“I work in climate change adaptation – not carbon cutting, but advising companies how to change their behaviour, practices and policies because of what we know is already happening to the climate. I was already interested in local currencies, and then I saw the B£ with Bowie on it and thought, that’s so cool! I found out about Bonus from the Brixton Blog and thought it was a brilliant idea: more people will know about the currency, and it’s a way to keep them spending it, keep the money circulating. I already had some B£s in my account so I got tickets, but I didn’t expect to win!”

“What will I do with my prize? I’ve donated some of it already to Brixton Soup Kitchen and the Norwood and Brixton Foodbank. Solomon who runs Brixton Soup Kitchen is such a great Brixton character. I want to give some to Brixton People’s Kitchen, too. I took my girlfriend out to Casa Sibilla, it’s run by people who used to be our neighbours. I called up this new place, Naughty Piglets, they don’t take B£ yet but seemed very keen, can you get in touch with them? I’m gonna spend some at Brixton Cycles, too – I’m a cyclist, and they’ve got a fundraising campaign going on because their premises are under threat, so it will be good to support them. And with the weather changing I should really get some waterproofs! I’m sure there’s a lot of other places where I can spend B£s, I just have to form the habit – we’re here in Market House which takes B£, but I completely forgot and paid in regular pounds. Oh, and I will buy more Bonus tickets!

“I’d like to stay in Brixton. It gets under your skin. It’s such a real location, like its own town, you don’t get the same feeling anywhere else. I love the creative vibe, but also how down to earth everyone is. And it’s always loud, and crowded, and in your face, you get out of the tube station and there’s people playing drums and someone shouting about Jesus and all that is weirdly comforting, maybe because it’s so alive. It’s not sanitised. A lot of the problems are really wider London problems, but I guess they are more noticeable here exactly because there’s such a strong local identity.”

#YourPound: Meet the User – Duncan

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! Last year you’ve met PaulAliciaManda, PamelaPaulVincent, and Francis, and today we’d like to introduce you to Duncan.

TTB

Duncan is the co-founder of Transition Town Brixton, a community-led initiative to engage everyone in imagining, planning and pioneering the way towards a better future that is less dependent on scarce resources, and more interconnected, cooperative, resilient, humane, local and fun. It has given rise to such ground breaking projects as the Brixton Pound, Community Draught Busters, The Remakery, Brixton Energy/Repowering London, and most recently the Lambeth Local Entrepreneur Forum, the first edition of which is happening on 2nd June.

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Held at Brixton East 1871 next week, this is an opportunity for small or start-up enterprises to pitch to their local “community of dragons” (everyone!) for support – and not just of money! Everyone can be an investor: of money but also time, resources, skills, enthusiasm, moral support or Facebook likes… With this project, Transition Town Brixton aims to create a culture of community-supported local economy, where the community can invest in various ways in developing the local economy. The audience will include entrepreneurs, potential investors, activists, decision-makers, and community members, and such speakers as the founder of the global Transition Town movement Rob Hopkins, and Lambeth’s Entrepreneur-in-residence, Colin Crooks of Tree Shepherd. The tickets include a seasonal, locally-sourced buffet supper. A one-off special elderflower brew from Brixton Brewery will also be served! And there’s a big discount if you pay in B£s – just text ‘pay ttbrixton 12.99’ to 07797880200. We’ll be there – it would be great to see many of you too!

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Back to Duncan: he is an actor and director by training, but he is also long-term concerned about climate change, peak oil, and sustainability, so campaigning on these issues has been his increasing focus: “I went to Climate Camp in 2006 and decided that was going to be my front line activity. I also met Rob Hopkins, who started the Transition Town movement. So in 2007 I converted my local activities with Lambeth Climate Action Groups into Transition Town Brixton. It was more positive, more moving forward, and less fighting against.”

“Climate change affects the viability of the life on this planet, so to me that’s the single most important thing, and that conviction drives me to work on it. I’m also more aware that being angry or scared isn’t galvanising: we need the pull factor, not the push factor, offer people to experience the positive effects of change and work towards a future that’s better, more connected, local, skilled, and fun! It would be fun because people would be actively participating in it and involved in doing it, which would make it enjoyable. It’s much more fun to build a treehouse than to read a book where a character has one. Connecting with local people is one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing according to research done by New Economics Foundation, and doing that in real life rather than online is more rewarding.”

“We did a project called Food Upfront, which was about growing food in front gardens – to be seen, to inspire others, to make sharing the care for them easier (your neighbour could water them for you when you’re away), to change the aesthetic of the streets but also people’s thinking around sharing resources and what ‘common sense’ is. Imagine every house with a front garden full of vegetables, houses covered in greenery and vine, and a swimming pool reservoir in the middle of the street instead of parking spaces because we wouldn’t be using cars – wouldn’t that be brilliant?”

How can you do stuff in your everyday life to contribute to this vision? “I don’t own a car, I cycle. I work on my house to make it as low impact as possible, insulate it, implement positive innovation. I try to be an active part of the rich mix that is Brixton. Getting involved in stuff like the Local Entrepreneur Forum, which is all about what we can do to speed up localisation, to enable people and businesses to be more proactively part of the solution. We want to change how people think, give them more connections to the area and to each other, make them more involved in the local economy, and have people be more aware of the benefits of that. It’s part of the Transition Town movement’s REconomy project – about an economy that’s rethought, reconnected, relocalised. It unifies a lot of the Transition Towns’ projects under a powerful theme that speaks to regular people as well as decision makers.”

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“On a Lambeth level, there’s so much that could be done to relocalise. For instance our research has shown that almost the entire spending on Lambeth parks disappears outside Lambeth, when it could be using local suppliers, employing local people. Similarly, our studies have shown that of the massive spending of food in Lambeth most goes to supermarket, and relocalising just 10% of it would double the turnover of local food economy. That would give the area more resilience, and more possibilities for local supply.”

“I’ve been here for 28 years. Sure, it was different in 1987, but also much the same: a sparky, vibrant place where stuff happens.  My first real experience of engaging in community building and local networks was when I moved to the top of Brixton Hill and set up a neighbourhood association there. It’s since suffered from many changes in the area, but is now being revived by a new generation of local people, because the area attracts good, community-oriented people still. If I’m honest, I moved here because my brother and I could afford a flat here in 1987, and he worked in Kingston so it was convenient. But I loved it instantly – people just spoke to you in the street, and there was life in the streets, it was open. Now… well, I think lots of that energy is still here. Of course, there’s no salvation from gentrification, but the fat cats in Volvos will move on when they get a better deal somewhere else, and the people who care will stay. I’ve seen so many people get involved in the Transition Town movement, in our group in Brixton. This one guy used to be a corporation worker, he took a leaflet and came to a meeting, and is now a hard line climate activist. People would come to one film screening, and decide they wanted to give significant portions of their time for this. Do I think more people would get involved if they knew some of the things about climate change that I know? Not necessarily. I think knowledge is necessary but it’s not the answer. If you have the eco literacy and can add up causes and effects you’ll realise that however you live in the Western world you will be a high impact person, and lots of people cannot get their heads around it – it sounds so hopeless. What we need is more holistic thinking, and the pull factor: not only show people that living differently is possible and enjoyable, but get them to experience it themselves, the positives rather than the negatives. I’ve taken part in food growing groups and skill sharing groups that changed how I live, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself in the process. It’s about embodying hope.”

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“In 1992 we set up a LETS (Local Exchange Trading Scheme) here, and suddenly I was aware of all these great people doing interesting things. I’m still in touch with a lot of them! It was such a revolutionary scheme, enabling people to trade directly between each other. There was a bimonthly catalogue which was just such a delight to read, you saw all these people offering amazing skills, I kept thinking, “I want to meet this person! I wanna know how they came about knowing this great skill they’re offering!” I used to offer high bed advice, because I built quite a few, so I was offering to co-design with people who’d want one. It was great and really connected you to people. And Brixton Pound grew out of that: in 2008 we did a conference called Local Economy Day, about how to do it and why you should, and we trialled B£s for the first time there during lunch break. We printed a bunch of notes called Brixton Bricks, and they represented the LETS credits. And then it all took off and look where we are today!”

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“I’m probably one of the most frequent B£ users, I spend it in Brixton Whole Foods, Snugg, Brixi, Morleys, Kaff, C@fe Brixton on Brixton Station Road, at Bushman’s… I mostly use pay-by-text. It all started partly from economic reasons but partly to get people to think and talk about what money really is, and I think it’s still fulfilling that purpose. It’s probably past its “this is revolutionary” phase, and now more people respond to it with slight incredulity, “is it still going?”, but that means they will have heard about it. And if you’ve got some, you’ll spend them back into the local economy. And by using more B£s, people are making it easier to set up local supply chains, maybe even distribution centres…”

“I’ve got two kids – a two year old and a four year old. I spend mornings and evenings with my family. It’s time-consuming, but it’s also rewarding and delightful. That’s also work for a viable future: you can produce powerful people. We try to do fun things together, like cycling around in my Burmese rickshaw, or a bike and bike trailer. We go to Forest School on Mondays in Streatham Common woods, it’s run by a local enterprise called Sankofa to Nature. There the kids play in a way that connects them to nature and they learn natural skills, like watching animals or setting a campfire, or just being dirty and in touch with nature. I don’t really have time for sailing, or reading, or theatre – which used to be a big part of my life, but instead we’ve been camping twice with the Forest School. Did you know there is a campsite on the edge of Dulwich Woods? There’s still bits in London where nature is doing its own work. And seeing the kids do roly polys, playing in the field there – that’s probably the best thing there is.”

 

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 – 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!

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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!