Cardiff’s community currency: Cardiff Taffs

Posted on January 7, 2012

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Today Cardiff Taffs had their monthly meeting at the Embassy Café, Cathays. I went along to find out more about Cardiff’s own currency.

A group of Cardiff people are breaking away from pounds and starting to use their own currency to exchange skills and goods with one another. About 300 people have signed up online to Cardiff Taffs Community Currency which , in the main, operates outside pound sterling.

Project Co Ordinator Ian Hilbert said a community currency helps people feel a sense of community, especially at tough economic times. “It helps build local resilience,” he said. “It connects a community of people that can help each other. It also has a positive effect in terms of sustainability.”

Things on offer at today's Taffs meet up

Members sign up online and can list items or skills they want to offer in exchange for community credits called Taffs with a value based on around £1 per Taff, but Ian says bartering is sometimes involved. Currently people are offering a range of things including home made jams, wine and bread, face painting, massage and language lessons. Some of the more unusual offerings include help to start family tree research, women’s self defence lessons and help filling in benefits forms.

Local businesses have also got on board, including the Embassy Café where monthly meet ups are held on the first Saturday of every month. Members can buy tea there for a Taff.

Ian says people that are worried they have nothing to offer shouldn’t be put off as anything can be offered, including a listening ear. “For people that think they have nothing to offer, people can give their time,” said Ian. There is also a wanted section on the website.

All new members start off with 100 Taffs, a change from when they first started in June 2010. Originally people started on zero but people were put off by entering into debt as soon as they ‘bought’ anything.

Although most transactions are done via the internet, there are also a limited amount of printed Taffs which are used at monthly meet ups where people will bring their items to ‘sell’. These printed Taffs are tied more closely to the sterling value of one Taff per £1. Ian says some people find printed Taffs easier to deal with as “it makes it more tangible and real for people. People are used to using money so it makes it more accessible”.

Ian first became involved in what was then Cardiff SEWLETS after reading an article from The Ecologist that recommended some schemes around the UK. He says Taffs is similar to other community currencies around Britain. Taffs differs from some by operating mainly outside of sterling, unlike the Totnes Pound which people buy for money.

To find out more about Cardiff Taffs sign up online, join the Facebook group or go along to a meet up to find out more.

For other ways of sharing skills and goods with the community without money check out Freecycle, where people offer unwanted goods in the area for free, Freeconomy, a web based community sharing skills and goods with local people for free or head along to The Red and Black Umbrella in Splott which is offering a variety of free workshops and events.

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