LETS: A community development
LETS: A community development

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LETS: A community development

2 Liz Shepherd and Jan Hurst

Figure 1
Liz Shepherd

Liz Shepherd

At the time of recording, Liz Shepherd was the national co-ordinator of LETSLINK UK [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .In the first clip, she talks about her reasons for being attracted to LETS and mentions phrases such as ‘self-help’, ‘co-operative’ and ‘extended family’. She saw LETS as making a contribution to developing and sustaining social networks. When she was interviewed, she described a typical scheme as having about 12 people in a management group, to make sure it was running smoothly and there was plenty of user involvement. Some schemes grew out of Green issues, some were purely locality- or street-based, some had a health focus. Often people got involved without knowing what they could offer, and all sorts of creative exchanges emerged. She mentioned a housebound person who had a dog that needed walking and a large collection of CDs, and cross-cultural exchanges of food involving people from Asian backgrounds.

Jan Hurst

In 2000, Jan Hurst was a Development Officer for the London Borough of Greenwich Social Exclusion and Justice Division's Anti-Poverty Team. In the audio clips, she talks about using the LETS model, with support from the council, on deprived estates and with disabled people. She had worked for 15 years in community-based jobs, including work in a day centre for disabled people, where she was a day care officer. It is perhaps for this reason that she helped to set up LETS Get Together in Greenwich, a scheme for disabled and non-disabled people. Her concern was that LETS could operate in an exclusive way, particularly if a scheme emerged from a particular political concern or interest. Some people may have been excluded from sharing their skills and making a contribution if they were defined as different, or felt marginalised.

She says that borough departments had been supportive of LETS, though the initiative for LETS development came from local people at a conference discussing results of a borough-wide survey about poverty levels. LETS were considered useful to develop self-help strategies and provide people on a low income with more spending power. Greenwich provided financial resources for setting-up costs, including a computer, a telephone line, an answer phone, a laminating machine, a Polaroid camera, furniture and publicity leaflets.

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