Tag Archives: meet the user

#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 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!

Meet the User – #BriXmas competition winner Paul


Paul Melbourne, who got 20 of his friends to sign up for pay-by-text B£ accounts in November, was consequently the winner of our #BriXmas competition, and received B£250 to spend during one Saturday – and not just any Saturday! 6th December was officially Small Business Saturday – though if you’re using B£, every day is Support Your Local Independents day.

Paul says there wasn’t a particular secret to his successful sign-up approach – he didn’t promise his friends any perks or parts of his winnings. “I like a competition! For this one, you had to put a bit more effort in, so I was emailing and texting friends, sending them Facebook messages – everyone who lived around this area, so that setting up an account wouldn’t just be for the competition, but useful for them as well. It’s really easy to sign up, you just need your name and phone number and you’re pretty much good to go, so people just did!”

Paul first signed up himself about a year ago, but has always just used paper B£, so this was his first time spending by text. We met at Rosie’s for a coffee, and he was very surprised that when he paid, the waitress barely looked at his phone to check. That’s the special B£ trust to you! “I’ve definitely given the paper notes as gifts. When my friends were getting married recently and asked for cash, I gave them B£s – it’s nicer that way, a bit more personal, and they’ll be able to come to Brixton and have a good meal.” Paul’s wife Lindsay joined us later in the day, and said she also gifted B£s recently to her friend’s newborn: “Baby’s first Brixton Pounds!” Saturday was an opportunity to buy gifts for family and friends too. Paul said he doesn’t always buy friends birthday gifts: “Usually it’s just a pint! So though I didn’t offer them anything for signing up, I’m buying a few friends birthday gifts today.” 20 Storey was offering a special Small Business Saturday 20% discount to B£ users, so Paul picked up a few items there, and also went into The Turpentine for a few more gifts.

Marta from B£ looking at some 20% off Hirst

@gavinfreeborn https://freebornphotography.wordpress.com 
Marta from B£ looking at some 20% off Hirst

Paul lives in Crystal Palace and works in Brixton. He’s been in London for 6 years, and always around this area. He’s been coming to Brixton even before that, mostly for gigs. He first moved into a room a friend had going in Tulse Hill. Now him and his wife are buying their first flat in Crystal Palace, so on Saturday they were looking for things for their new home – the enamelled plates and pots in Cornercopia were a great choice.

Actually, it's Bring Your Own Soundsystem Saturday!

@gavinfreeborn https://freebornphotography.wordpress.comActually, it’s Bring Your Own Soundsystem Saturday!

Paul often wanders around Brixton at lunchtime, on his break. “Before I worked in Victoria. There’s lots of big office buildings, but absolutely no character, so you go on your lunch break and there’s just chains. Here I can roll around for an hour, it’s got character and a good mix of people. Bushman Cafe is always good for lunch, although you have to come in early because they sell out! And have you been to the jacket potato place opposite Rosie’s? It’s fairly new, has only been there for a month or two, but they’re great jacket potatoes and that’s exactly what I wanted to find around here. They have some great fillings: jerk chicken, vegetables. And it’s also a record shop! There are a lot of places for eating – so many good restaurants. Franco Manca, The Joint. I always say I want to go somewhere new, but end up in the same places because I like them so much. I go to 20 Storey for every birthday ever – I can get a good gift for less than B£10. Oh, and Barber de Seville – I cut my own hair, but about once a year it needs tidying up, and that’s where I go. I didn’t know before there are so many places that take B£s. Now I had a chance to find out because of this competition, I’ll definitely start using it more. I’ll chuck B£50 into my account every month and keep spending locally.”

Paul’s a busy man: he works as a fundraising manager for Housing For Women, a small charity which shares a building with Lambeth Council opposite the Brixton Academy. It provides homes and support for London’s women with the greatest need, and its roots go back to the suffragette movement. Paul and Lindsay are also the publishers of The Unofficial Crystal Palace Calendar, a wall calendar for 2015 where each photo represents something meaningful for the local community:

“We’ve been living in Crystal Palace for a while now and just love it, not just how much there is to do to but the real community feel there is here so we wanted to create a calendar that didn’t just capture the really nice bits of the area (the amazing park, the dinosaurs, the famous transmitter), but also the things that we love about the area, familiar faces and some of the funny stories which have come out of the Crystal Palace Local Facebook group.”

If you live in Crystal Palace, you don’t have to pay for postage – Paul will deliver the calendar on his bike! And if that wasn’t enough for the power couple, they are also launching a food business: Get Wurst, selling bratwurst and curry wurst to hungry South Londoners. “Just today I couldn’t come down earlier because we were at the Crystal Palace food market – I still left early, Lindsay had to finish off.” The official launch is happening on Friday at the Windmill, Paul’s favourite venue: “I love the Windmill, I’m always up for a night out there!” They know Seamus, the owner, and are fans of the Windmill’s own beer Roof Dog. This Friday, Lindsay’s indie band Listening Party are playing their last ever gig, and she has also designed a tropical photo booth for the Windmill’s guests. And then on Saturday they’re wursting at the Gypsy Hill Brewing Co.’s Xmas party. Talk about busy!

“It’s been a really exciting year for me. I got married, bought a house, won a bunch of B£s!” Paul has asked not to reveal what gifts he bought, not to spoil the surprise for his friends and family, but thanks to local photographer Gavin Freeborn we’ve got a few snaps of him on Saturday, spending his prize money and supporting Brixton’s independent businesses. Him and his wife also enjoyed a few drinks at Three Eight Four (with 15% discount!) and some food at Bukowski Grill. Paul tweeted in the evening with a photo of his shopping bags:

#YourPound: Meet the Trader – Love Cats

Max 2

Love Cats loves your cats (and other small pets) when you can’t, arranging regular, trustworthy and affordable care for them. Victoria set up the business in 2011 after being made redundant. “I wanted to do something!” she says. 4 years and 4 Christmases on, the team of ‘cat servants’ has grown to 4 people who cover most of South London.

Rufus    Max 1

When you’re away for the weekend, on a business trip or on holiday, Victoria, Pamela, Elaine or Jane who still volunteer as cat socialisers at a well-known local cats home as well as being professional pet sitters, will regularly visit your cat in its own home. “We really believe that cats feel much better in their own environment. They need routine, and no matter how friendly catteries might be, there’s always an unfamiliar cage,” says Victoria. Before your holiday, the Love Cats team will take the time to meet you and your cat to understand any particular traits, and then drop in to check on your cat each day for at least 20-30 minutes – enough to feed the cat, refill its water supply, check for any signs of ill health, and if the cat requires it – also cuddles. “Some cats are OK on their own, but some really need cuddles, and we are all dedicated cat lovers so can definitely give them that! We always try to get to know each cat and its individual routine and needs.”


Victoria and her dedicated team members have many years’ experience with hundreds of cats and small animals, have CRB checks and insurance, as well as access to 24/7 veterinary care. “It’s a lot of responsibility – taking care of someone’s cat, but also being a spare key holder! Sometimes people call us because they’ve locked themselves out – it’s an additional service we can provide,” smiles Victoria.

Chi sunbathe

They come highly recommended too. Mark, from Brixton, says:

“The Love Cats came to check on Genghis while I was away and he seemed very happy with the service.  They came round to meet him first to check they got on, and it was all very easy to arrange.  It’s a great service and also means someone is checking on your home each day while you are away.”

Maisy     Gilbert foot rub

Her and most of her cat staff have other jobs, Love Cats being, as the name indicates, a labour of love. Elaine is an ex-dancer and pilates teacher, Jane an accountant in the City who decided to take it more easy, and Pamela a retired social worker.

PamelaPamela is Love Cats’ Brixton connection. She’s lived in the area for 8 years, and as a gardener and cat sitter had been involved in LETS – Local Economy Trading Scheme, a system of exchange which existed before the Brixton Pound. During Easter 2012 she joined Victoria at Love Cats and though she still does a bit of gardening, taking care of cats actually became her main job. She sometimes sees as many as 10 cats a day! With a minimum of 20 minutes per visit, that’s quite a lot – but Pamela saves a lot of time by cycling everywhere (and only occasionally getting the train uphill to get to Gypsy Hill).

Pamela really likes Brockwell Park, and lives so close she can see it from her neighbour’s window. She likes the fact she can buy groceries and essentials with B£s – she shops at Nour Cash & Carry and Brixton Whole Foods, and has the occasional cupcake from Ms Cupcake as the location is in between two cat sitting appointments. She says: “It’s the perfect job for me – I can do knitting, I can read a book, even have a snooze if I want to – the cats are happy with that! All I need to do is make sure they’re well, feed them, change the litter, and play with them. I absolutely adore old cats, there is just something great about them. My own, Pudding, is 18 now. Love Cats take care of Pudding when I’m away. We look after other small animals, too – I once had a bearded dragon in my care! – but we’re really cat specialists. Cats are a bit hard to read, you have to observe them very carefully. Sometimes you can tell something’s up just by the way they move their tails – you have to understand their behaviour.” In her whole cat sitting career with Love Cats, Pamela has never had to actually take a cat to the vet, only sometimes call to get some advice – which must mean the cats are in very safe and competent hands.

Merlin    Sonny

Many requests come around Christmas time, and Love Cats even work on Christmas Day! “We try to never turn anyone down,” assures Victoria, though she admits last minute requests can be more difficult to accommodate. So if you’re planning to leave for the holiday season and have a cat or small pet, get in touch with Love Cats now to make sure they have a wonderful Christmas. Registration is free, and if you’re paying in B£, you’ll get 10% off your first booking!

Bramble tickle

Photo of Pamela at Rosie’s Deli Cafe by Marta Owczarek

All other photos by Love Cats, starring: Max, Rufus, Max again, Melodie, Chi Chi (Victoria’s cat), Maisy, Gilbert, Merlin, Sonny, and Bramble

#YourPound: Meet The User – Manda

If you picked up a copy of the Brixton Bugle this weekend, you will have already met Manda, B£ user who told us why she did her #BriXmas shopping in B£, and plans to #shoplocal again this year. If you’re a bit stuck for ideas, keep an eye on our blog this month – we’ll be posting some gift guides to help you out!

Over the last year and a half 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 Alicia, and today we bring you a special BriXmas themed guest blog from Manda!




I can’t remember why I started using the B£. I think it was because there was a lot of stuff on Twitter about ‘shopping local’  – and that gave me an idea for a ‘theme’ for my Christmas present-buying.  These days, Christmas seems more and more absurd in our family – call me churlish, but every year we spend money we haven’t really got on things that people don’t really want and it seems like a terrible waste of love, money and time. Not to mention the carbon footprint, and lining the pockets of corporate greed.

So what better than to give presents bought locally and, in doing so, support local independent retailers! Then at least somebody benefits!

To my delight, I also discovered that B£ notes are really cool. Especially the B£10 David Bowie ones.

To get my Brixton £££s I had to go to Morley’s menswear department (yes, this is where Google directed me) where I changed about £100 at the till. Armed with my colourful notes I set off for Brixton Village. My house got decorated with pom-poms from Circus, my nieces were given enamelled beakers from Cornercopia, my nephew got a moleskin notebook from Malika and my sister some 70’s vinyl from United 80. (My Dad was a bit more tricky so I got him a book from W H Smith – well, it is in Brixton…) I also used the text method to pay for gifts from my B£ account – many Brixton shops now allow this. I did it at 20 Storey in Brixton Village where I got some funky gifts for friends.

I also got lucky with a B£ Twitter campaign: every day in December a B£ note was hidden in a different shop in Brixton Village. I happened to find a tenner in Rose & Thorn while I was trying on a dress – hey, this B£ thing is fun!

Since then I have set up a direct debit so every month £5 is credited to my B£ account. Watch out family, Brixton presents will be coming your way again this Christmas!

Manda Glanfield


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 – Paul

Over the last year and a half we’ve been introducing you to our traders – independent business owners who are part of the Brixton Pound family. What we’d like to do alongside that is to introduce you to the members of the community who are just as significant: the Brixton Pound users! Today we have a guest post from Paul:


I’m Paul Gill, a B£e user.  When I was a kid living in Catford, my Dad knew every greengrocer, butcher and baker by name. As I grew up, many local shops closed; supermarkets took over, offering cheaper goods in a charmless, impersonal environment. Well, you get what you pay for…

I want to return to knowing the shopkeeper. I want my kids to know the people working in their neighbourhood. I want to back local independent business where I can.

The Brixton Pound is a calling card. To a trader it says that I’m local and likely to be back. Paying by text means they may get to know me by name. I meet fascinating and wonderful people in Brixton through B£e: Imran at Elephant, Adrian at Studio 73, Nicholas at Salon, Giovanni at LABG, Dorian the Barber, Yinka the Osteopath, Dave the Wine… Oh, I could go on. I get value and great service, plus I get to know knowledgeable and talented people.

B£e also helps me to help out locally. With a young family I don’t have much time to spare, but I can donate to local causes like Foodbank and Brixton Soup Kitchen through B£e.

I’m proudly Brixtonian. I’m proud that Brixton has a currency that businesses and residents can use to keep money in Brixton. And, as this town becomes ever busier, it’s nice to know and be known by the people I buy from.

Dad’s not using the B£, but then he doesn’t live here. Still, he knows a few of the traders by name, including Phil the Toy Man. He never needs an excuse to stop and chat, but if you don’t have Dad’s gift of the gab, the Brixton Pound might just get you and your Great Brixton traders talking.


Would you like to be featured in our next Meet The User post? You could write a guest blog like Paul, or we could meet you, have a nice chat, and then write about it. If that sounds good, drop us a line at info@brixtonpound.org!