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This free course, LETS: A community development, enables you to hear about some of the participants in the Local Exchange and Trading Schemes (LETS). These are associations of people who make offers of goods and services to and from each other. What is on offer and the requests people make are listed in local directories.
By the end of this free course you should be able to:
- give examples of how LETS work as a community development.
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
LETS: A community development
Local Exchange and Trading Schemes (LETS) expanded rapidly in the UK after the first scheme was set up in Norfolk in 1985. By 1996 LETSLINK UK, the coordinating body, reckoned that there were about 450 LETS in the UK, with 40,000 members. LETS exist in most western European countries – in Australia and New Zealand, the US, Canada and Japan. Their origins lie in Canadian attempts to revive local traditions of skills exchange and barter outside commercial and international labour markets and currency systems.
LETS are associations of people who make offers of goods and services to and from each other. What is on offer, and the requests people make, are listed in local directories. Currencies have local names. You'll hear people mentioning ‘Squares’ and ‘Keys’ on the audio clips. Each member has a cheque book of currency vouchers, with which they pay for work or goods. Cheques are then sent to a central accounting office where one individual account is credited and one is debited. A typical system values units of currency at one hour's work. Sometimes cash is involved, if materials are needed or a phone bill mounts up.
LETS vary around the world, with some systems maintaining parity with the national currency and being organised by one person as administrator. In the UK, the model is more flexible and democratic, with participation and collective control more in evidence.
The audio clips were recorded in 2000.
Participants in the audio clips:
Liz Shepherd is the national co-ordinator of LETSLINK UK;
Jan Hurst is Development Officer for the London Borough of Greenwich Social Exclusion and Justice Division's Anti-Poverty Team;
Peter Jones, Roger Bunker, Rachel Bunker, Jenny Hurst and Veera Usher Muller are all members of two LETS in the Greenwich area.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 2 study in.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Social Care courses or view the range of currently available OU Social Care courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 9th January 2013
Last updated on: Wednesday, 9th January 2013
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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