Welcome to LETS. We hope that you will not only find the organisation useful, but will make new friends. Think of us as a new extended family to whom you can turn when you have a problem someone to walk the dog during a family crisis, someone to mind your child, someone to cut the overgrown hedge, someone to teach you Spanish before a holiday.

Questions? Here are the answers to some of the most common:

If I have 'no LETS currency I can't trade, can I?

Forget your old ideas about hard currency. LETS doesn't work in the same way. Your LETS account starts with a nil balance and you create credit by trading. However, you can start spending immediately: your account will go into debit but no interest is charged and there's no fixed repayment schedule. You may get a major task completed at once, but we do ask that you contribute to the merry-go-round regularly by contributing your time and skills to others. Thus sometimes your account will be in debit and sometimes in credit. Every transaction contributes to the overall wealth of the community, so you will be helping others by asking them to do things for you. Don't just sit and wait for the phone to ring. Ring someone else.

What is lets currency?

Each LETS group and there are hundreds all over the world chooses a unit of currency for itself and decides on its value. Malvern charges Beacons, Manchester charges Bobbins. With our strong Roman heritage in Colchester we chose a unit called Romans, and each unit is worth roughly a pound.

Do I need to find a direct exchange?

LETS formalises the system of trading by allowing you to buy or sell services with any member. In this way the feeling of obligation towards one person you experience by asking a neighbour for help disappears. You help B, B helps C, C helps K and J helps you.

How do I know if the person can do the job?

Even though the person offering a service is in LETS we are not guaranteeing their services as an employment agency would. It is up to you to ask for references where necessary, but the LETS core group can let you see the previous trading record of any member.

How do I price my skills / goods?

See what other people are charging in the Directory for similar services. Major jobs will be negotiable, but you should decide for yourself how much an hour you want to charge. A rough guide of R5 per hour for amateur work is reasonable. There may be a hard cash element involved for materials etc. but there must also be an element of Romans or your offer will not be included in the Directory. Free offers are also discouraged: we are not just an advertising service but an organisation encouraging the creation of local wealth by trading in an alternative currency to which no-one is barred. Everyone can do something.

Still puzzled?

Contact one of the core group and we will do our best to help. Want to know more about the LETS

organisation? Recommended reading is "LETS Work" by Peter Lang, Grover Books, 1994,

ISBN 1899233008, or "LETS Act Locally" by Jonathan Croall, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1997,

ISBN 0903319810.

Happy trading RT/ 1/99