Pokemon cards, Moshi monsters, jelly stickers, friendship bracelets – at some point over the last few years my kids have swapped all these things. And in return they get good stuff back.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could go into a shop and, even if you had no money, you could still swap something you had for something you want?
In communities all over the world, people are doing just that. Or something very like it.
Local Exchange Trading Schemes or LETS for short, enable people who live near each other to swap their skills and receive goods and services without having to pay a penny.
I joined my local LETS scheme when I gave some of my old chess sets to a teacher who was setting up a chess club at the primary school. In return she gave me 100 LETS to spend. LETS are virtual money. I can’t go into a regular shop and spend them, but I can use them in LETS land!
When I want to spend my LETS I look up my local LETS website and see who is offering what service.
Someone will walk your dog for 10 LETS.
Another person will cut your hair- that’s 10 LETS as well.
One person is offering the loan of her ice cream maker for 5 LETS. Yummy, that’s definitely worth spending some LETS on!
Every time I use a service, I spend some LETS. If I want to earn more LETS I can offer my skills. Perhaps I could babysit. I would charge 10 LETS an hour I think. Or maybe you would like me to look after your chickens when you go on holiday? Does 5 LETS a day sound reasonable?
Do you think a LETS scheme would work where you are?
Perhaps you could set one up for your family and friends?
Of course it’s nice to do things for other people without getting paid – even if it is virtual money. But the good thing about LETS is that it helps you ask for things without worrying that you are being a bother to your neighbours.
And it makes you think about what you could do in return.
So what could you swap? (I’m thinking of a skill to swap, not, say, your brother for a guinea pig).
I bet if you start making a list you could think of loads of things you could do.
The author’s local scheme is called CHETLETS.
Susannah Leigh writes children’s books. She has written over twenty titles in the Usborne Young Puzzle Book series. Find her at www.susannahleigh.com