They were launched as an ethical and local alternative to the way we use money – but in the next three months, the brightly-coloured Bristol Pound notes will be effectively worthless.
The organisation that produced the Bristol Pounds, with their locally-relevant designs, since 2015 is withdrawing them from circulation and switching the scheme to a new, cash-less project called ‘Bristol Pay’.
At its peak, more than one million Bristol Pounds were circulated every year, and around 650 businesses, including the likes of First Bus and most of the city’s visitor attractions, accepted the currency instead of Bank of England money.
READ MORE: What ever happened to the Bristol Pound?
Now, the Bristol Pound organisers are promising that anyone who still has the £1, £5, £10 and £20 notes in their wallets, or maybe in the back of their shop’s tills, have explained what people need to do with them.
People could simply keep them as a memento of the currency experiment, but if they want to return them, they can and will be reimbursed in regular, English pounds.
But there is a third option being promoted by Bristol Pound. People can send the notes back to them, and if they don’t say they want to exchange them, the value of the Bristol notes will be donated to Feeding Bristol, the city-wide charity combating food poverty.
“The Bristol Pound was a great tool for localising our city’s economy and raising awareness of the importance of localisation,” said a spokesperson for Bristol Pound.
“Now that the £B is exiting circulation – to make way for Bristol Pay and other projects – Bristol Pound CIC encourages those who still have notes sitting around the house in draws, or behind tills in strongboxes, to return them by 30 September 2021.
“We want to make sure the end of the currency scheme is in keeping with the aims that got it started in the first place – namely to keep money circulating in the city to create a fairer, greener and stronger local economy.
“With that in mind, Bristol Pound is offering the option of donating the value of returned notes to Feeding Bristol – a charity combating food poverty in Bristol – instead of being reimbursed in pound sterling,” she added.
It is not known just how many Bristol Pounds are still out there in the city, but if most people who have them just send them back with no request for sterling, then it could be a sizeable sum for Feeding Bristol.
‘We’re delighted that Bristol Pound is supporting our work with their £B donation offer. Bristol Pound has been closely linked with the food sector since its outset, so it seems really fitting to be included in its legacy,” said Ped Asgarian, the director of Feeding Bristol.
If people keep the Bristol Pounds or don’t send them back before September 30, then the Bristol Pound organisation will use the equivalent funds they don’t need to return or donate to continue the development of the next generation of the project – Bristol Pay.
“The paper money scheme may be ending, but the ideas, values and people who made it possible aren’t going anywhere, and continue to work on projects to enrich and empower our local economy,” said a spokesperson for Bristol Pound.
If you have Bristol Pounds and keep them, just hold onto them and the equivalent money will go to Bristol Pay
If you send in unexpired notes to Bristol Pound, Engine Shed, Bristol BS1 6QH, you have a choice. If you provide your bank details, you’ll get the money into your bank account. If you just send them in without bank details, then the money will be donated to Feeding Bristol.