Urgent plea for volunteers to run cash-free barter system

No amount of Zoom meetings can replace a real handshake

Exmouth LETS is local exchange trading system - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Exmouth’s Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) is urgently appealing for new volunteers to run its group.

The town’s not-for-profit, community-based, cash-free barter system has reached a critical point in its history with its current organisers warning that if new volunteers can’t be found quickly, Exmouth LETS will fold.

Launched in August 2010, initially Exmouth LETS had 70 members, trading their practical skills and goods using its own virtual 'currency', the Cockle, via its dedicated website.

In 2016, the LETS went into abeyance due to website issues, but re-launched in 2018. Since then, the Covid-19 lockdown and declining membership hit the system badly, while further website problems have been a bugbear.

“The good news is that our website is now working well and it is possible to trade services and goods again,” said Paul Strange, chairman of Exmouth LETS.

“However, sadly, we now have very few members to trade with. Not only that, but the three of us on the core group – who launched the system back in 2010 – are older and no longer have the energy to relaunch and re-energise the system.

“It would be terribly sad if Exmouth LETS was to fold,” said Mr Strange. “It’s done a lot of good work in our community, bringing people together, forging new and lasting friendships while members recycle and re-use precious materials and swap their practical skills. Best of all, you don’t need cash to make the system work and it would really help people who are struggling to make ends meet.

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“What we are looking for are new, enthusiastic and energetic volunteers who understand how a LETS could benefit our town – especially in the current financial climate – and are keen to re-boot and run the system, probably using social media and events to promote it. The system is all there, ready to go on our dedicated website, but we need people who genuinely want LETS to work who can take up the reins and run it successfully.”

Anyone interested in running Exmouth LETS and rebuilding the system to secure its long-term future should ring 01395 272959, email exmouthlets@gmail.com or visit www.exmouthlets.org.uk