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Blog: Bristol Pound - a local currency to be proud of (and engage with)

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In this age of ever-increasing mistrust in the hegemony of the global financial institutions, it’s nice to report the continued growth in Bristol’s own currency the Bristol Pound (B£). Sift is doing its bit to support through a range of initiatives.

In this age of ever-increasing mistrust in the hegemony of the global financial institutions, it’s nice to report the continued growth in Bristol’s own currency the Bristol Pound (B£).  Launched in September 2012, Bristol Pound is now accepted at hundreds of (mostly local independent) retailers, as well as the local buses (First Group), GWR trains and you can also pay rent, rates and council tax to Bristol City Council in B£.  As well as supporting local commerce, it’s Bristol’s own currency, which we control – a badge of honour for those of us proud to live in such a vibrant and independent minded city!

The first thing we did at Sift with Bristol Pound was in April 2013 when I gave everyone in the company a Bristol Pound tenner at a company meeting.

B£ tenners company meeting April 2013

Last year, as part of the Greener Sift group discussions, we debated what we could to support Bristol Pound on an ongoing basis – justifying it as a green initiative on the basis that it promotes local businesses.  We got one of the Bristol Pound team to come in and do a Sift lunch-n-learn.

Bristpl Pound Lunc'n'Learn

Without imposing significant work on anyone, we finally decided that we would aim to do a few things:

  1. To encourage as many Sifties as possible to experience Bristol Pound (in their hands and wallets) by occasionally giving out B£ to everyone (for example a pre-Xmas B£ fiver), as well as offering them on exchange from the beer trolley on Fridays;
  2. To make it easier for staff to get hold of Bristol Pounds, we maintain a stash in finance, ready to exchange with any staff on a walk-up basis; and
  3. To further incentivise take-up, we offer Sift employees 11 Bristol Pounds for 10 Sterling (normally it’s one to one)!

Bristol pounds

The result is that everyone at Sift has experienced Bristol’s own currency and we feel like we’re doing our bit to support its roll-out.

The 11 for 10 offer probably costs less than £1,000 a year.  I justify it not only as something we should do to help support Bristol, but as another element of Sift’s various staff engagement activities; from the staff benefits we offer, to the Sift Cares & Greener Sift activities.  You can never have too many!

In December 2015, I also joined the board of Bristol Pound.  One of the things I’ve put my hand up for is to persuade other companies of the benefits of supporting Bristol Pound by signing up to a Bristol Pound Business Charter, which I’m formulating with them currently.

There isn’t yet a currency exchange booth at Bristol Temple Meads!

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