Last week, the Mild West room at Hamilton House was buzzing as 30 people came together to discuss inclusivity at the first Bristol Pound meet up. There was a lot of energy in the room and as usual, more ideas than we had time to explore. Thanks to all who came and offered their valuable ideas, opinions and experience. Here’s a round up of what we discussed and what we plan to do about it:
Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley, Green and Black Ambassador
Jasmine introduced our meeting, sharing her experiences working with social enterprises for the Green and Black initiative. Her advice was clear: we need to create an environment that more clearly reflects Bristol and its diverse demographic. We could do this by putting people from diverse communities in paid positions, benefiting from their personal experiences and networks. She spoke about taking our work into new communities and new spaces; into people’s own environments where they feel comfortable. We need to listen to what these communities are saying and think about how the Bristol Pound could benefit them and their communities. In undertaking a ‘listening process’, we can think more deeply about our offer to marginalised communities and how it might need to change.
Open space: what can we do about this?
Leading on from Jasmine’s introduction, we had a roundtable discussion identifying some of the main challenges we face in creating an inclusive and accessible currency. These challenges became the topics for five breakaway open space workshops:
- Diversifying from the top down: staff, board and members group
- Understanding and Identifying communities
- Listening process: identifying benefits for different communities
- Engaging with young people
- Self-employed community
In breakout groups of varying sizes, we discussed these topics and tried to pin down practical actions we could take forward:
Diversifying the Staff: Jasmine noted that people tend to trust people they can identify with. Could we try harder to get people representing other demographics onto our staff team? We could come up with Ambassador roles within the community?
Members Roadshow: the members group should set up a roadshow which goes sets up in businesses in communities around Bristol, talks to customers and shop keepers and waves the flag for the Bristol Pound. Pop up spaces in members local areas to talk to the public about how and why.
Reach out to organisations working in new communities: Connect with organisations within the communities we want to work with and offer people paid roles for shorter term projects. Use more authentic voices to tell our story and be genuine in the messages we put out: we are a tiny community organisation with very limited resources working in a vast web of communities, many of them struggling. It was strongly felt by the group that conducting a listening exercise – engaging and understanding new communities – was required before we attempt a roadshow, or other outreach plans.
Think about the offer for young people: less than 1% of our membership is younger than 25. It was suggested we might need to change our offer for university students; they might be interested in more tangible benefits, like entering the note design competition to help give exposure and launch creative careers. It was suggested that the Bristol Pound might be used to gain benefits which do not hold monetary value, such as queue jumping at a nightclub. Another suggestion was to reach out to University societies already aligned to issues around social and economic sustainability.
Self Employed Community: Ensure self-employed are included in the directory and increase the amount of networking events for businesses.
And the group agreed to take home design competition posters and display them prominently as a simple step to increase the reach of the Bristol Pound beyond its day-to-day members.
It’s clear that the Bristol Pound community feel passionately on the topic of inclusion and diversity. These conversations are just the beginning, and actions carried forward will be explored in future meet ups in order of what needs to happen first!
Come and carry on the discussion at our next member meet up on Thursday 22 February at Hamilton House 6 – 8pm.